52 Skidoo
52 Skidoo

The lively three-piece ensemble 52 Skidoo played a series of classic songs from the 1920s and the jazz songbook when they appeared at The Hub at St Mary’s.

The band played music that varied from juke joint jive, to slow blues, skiffle, and the colourful jazz interjections of the clarinet.

The set was started with the upbeat barrelhouse blues of The Joint is Jumpin, an early showcase for the stride piano styles of Henry Botham, who brought character and colour to the band’s sound throughout the evening.

The stylised singing and playing of Tommy Valentine were also on form, with his Charleston dancing towards the end of the evening during Sweet Georgia Brown getting some members of the audience on their feet.

Much of the musical heavy lifting was left to Howard Jacobs, his driving percussion and inventive clarinet playing – often at the same time – gave the band lift. Other groups would have added in a violin or bass to fill in the sound, but the group’s style filled in all of the gaps admirably.

Comedy songs featured throughout the evening, with Sea Food Mama and Your Feet’s Too Big being well received, but it was in the blues songs Nobody’s Fault But Mine and St Louise Blues where the full range of Valentine’s vocals could be properly heard. 

The closing song, a medley of New Orleans funeral music When The Saints Go Marching In/Down by the Riverside and Amazing Grace, featured some fine three-part harmony singing from the musicians, and it would have been good to have heard more of this side of the band’s sound earlier on.

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