The Timber Men Stompers • Jig Time

I love the Mills Brothers. Any time I see one of their LPs in a charity shop I do a little “shoop-de-whoop-whoop,” accompanied by a little jig of joy. As regular readers will know, I’m also a bit of a Francophile. So when I learned of the existence of The Timber Men Stompers—who do male close harmony singing in the irresistible accents of the UK’s more handsome, more romantic, more cultured, if slightly shorter (on average) neighbors—I was positively jubile.

And before anyone suggests that perhaps The Timber Men aren’t also Mills superfans—that perhaps they favor The Ink Spots, or perhaps The Four Freshmen—take a listen to their new record Jig Time, which is available on Bandcamp now. If you’ve ever heard a record by those four fabulous fraternal fellas, you’ll recognize their influence right away in the superb scatting and orally imitated instruments demonstrated on this delightful disc.

Red Wood Coast

It’s not a long record, with twelve tracks (including the secret one) clocking in at just three minutes each, on average. But every one is a superbly produced, sweet-sounding, soothing symphony of géniale Gallic grooviness. (Okay—no more alliteration from now on.) So, is this a Mills Brothers tribute record? Mais, non. For, as well as wielding five fantastic voices and one guitar (Arno Gauchia), the Timber Men feature one trumpet (Arne Wernink), one clarinet (Pierre Bayse), one upright bass (Marco Pensuet) and… another guitar (Remy Busquet).

As such, Jig Time is equipped to serve up a tasty combination of hot continental jazz à la QHCF with barbershop vocals and New Orleans instrumentation. It features perennial favorite tracks like “I Got Rhythm” and “Them There Eyes,” alongside vocal group classics like “I Ain’t Gonna Worry ’Bout a Soul” (formerly recorded by The Delta Rhythm Boys), “Somebody Loses, Somebody Wins,” and “That Doggone Dog of Mine” (both previously done by The Three Keys).

I’d like to tell you about each of these tracks in turn, but it’s difficult to know which ones to single out, or which aspect of each member’s playing and signing to highlight. It’s all good. It’s what I like, and lots of it. It’s danceable, it’s impressive (particularly the bass vocal on “I Ain’t Gonna Worry…”) and it brings a smile to the face. If you know the works of the aforementioned vintage vocal groups, just cross that with Django Reinhardt and Armstrong’s Hot Five and you already know what it sounds like.

Hot Jazz Jubile

The Timber Men Stompers have been playing their unique brand of old-time jazz with gorgeously accented close harmony singing for two decades, including gigs across Europe and North American, plus a three-month residency at Shanghai’s House of Blues and Jazz. They’ve only produced three records (including one live set) in all that time, all of which are most definitely worth a listen. You can find them all on Bandcamp right now, so check them out—allez… vite!

Jig Time
The Timber Men Stompers

Dave Doyle is a swing dancer, dance teacher, and journalist based in Gloucestershire, England. Write him at [email protected]. Find him on Twitter @DaveDoyleComms.

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