Andrew Liddle, Guest Writer

Jazz Album Review: In The House Of Horrors.

Village Music for Halloween Haunted House

Roy Noble The Haunted House; Bessie Smith Haunted House Blues; Jack Hylton & Sam Browne Bogey Wail; Jelly Roll Morton Boogaboo; Louis Armstrong The Skelton in the Closet; Red Nichols Haunting Blues; Tommy Dorsey Mister Ghost Goes to Town; Roy Fox & Denny Dennis The House is Haunted; Gene Krupa Dracula; Duke Ellington Eerie moan;Cab Calloway The Ghost of Smoky Joe; Artie Shaw Nightmare; John Kirby Zoomin' at the Zombie; Bing Crosby The Headless Horseman; Jimmie Lunceford Hi, Spook; Screamn' Jay Hawkins I put a spell on you; Bobby Hackett Skeleton Jangle; Frank Sinatra Witchcraft; Spike Jones That Old Black Magic; The Kingston Trio With her head tucked underneath her arm; Fred Waring Dry Bones; Ted Heat Swinging Ghosts; Eric Winstone The Phantom Pianist; Harry Belafonte Zombie Jamboree; Chris Barber & Ottilie Patterson 'Tain't no sin; Bobby 'Boris' Pickett Monster Mash.
Retrospective RTR4390

All Hallows’ Evening used to be a night to celebrate the achievements of long-departed saints and martyrs and loved ones. These days it’s about horror - or, rather, fake horror, pretending to get scared while dressed up in hired Hallowe’en costume. If you want to join the fun but don’t much go in for affected angst, trick or treating and pumpkin carving, you might find what you’re looking for in the Haunted House!

Here is an infectiously amusing CD - issued by Retrospective - endlessly entertaining the year round, not just on October 31st, embracing as it does early Jazz, British Dance band music, Swing, Jump music, Calypso, Trad Jazz and Rock’n’Roll. What the tracks have in common is of course a central theme of grand spookiness.

Many early jazz musicians were quick to fall into the spirit of burlesque and hokum, so common in Southern travelling fairs and circus shows, and there are a good half dozen priceless jazz tracks here including a haunting wail from the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith, the Haunted House Blues.

Another giant of Jazz, pianist Jelly Roll Morton, indeed the man who extravagantly claimed to have invented it, offers us a tremendously stomping Boogaboo – blowing away his personal bogy, bugbear, bête noire, call it what he will, with a bout of hot jazz. Prepare to be spooked by cornetist Red Nichols and his Five Pennies, mesmerised, in fact, by the band’s violin-guitar duo of Jo Venuti and Eddie Lang, on Haunting Blues.

For those who prefer the sophistications of Swing, there are unusual offerings from Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and Jimmy Lunceford and something to get you jumping and jiving out of your skin from the great Cab Calloway, the Hi-De-Hi man – he of Minnie the Moocher fame!

If it’s crooning you prefer, Denny Dennis, the Derbyshire Bing Crosby, lends his golden tonsils to The House is Haunted, in the company of the Roy Fox Band and Frank Sinatra finds his conscience stripped bare by a particularly bewitching female of his acquaintance. Spike Jones, zany as ever, sends up the whole romantic thing with a riotous That Old Black Magic, complete with sound effects and assorted goonery.

The Calypso King, Harry Belafonte, enters into the spirit, with the Zombie Jamboree, inviting one and all to dance ‘back to back, belly to belly’ and hoping Brigitte Bardot might put in an appearance.

Maybe the most well-known novelty number to those of a certain age will be the monster hit Monster Mash that Bobby Pickett had in this country and the USA in 1962. Not for nothing was Pickett known as ‘Boris’ since he never tired of attempting to reprise the wonder of his one hit on which he impersonated Hammer Horror heavy, Boris Karloff.

These 26 tracks are great fun – and not at all scary! You will be all set up to ignore the trick and treaters hammering on your door. Give them a blast of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s I Put A Spell On You!