It’s trad, Dad

The British trad-jazz movement of the 1950s and early 1960s happened to catch me in my formative years, which is how I wound up with records by Chris Barber and Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk. Half a century later, what I remember most is the mournful undertone: even the most boisterous of those records — Ball’s “Midnight in Moscow” — has some inchoate sadness to it. (It was later that I learned where it came from.)

Last week, being somewhat mournful myself, I sent up this tweet:

Bless you, Mr. Acker Bilk. (Sometimes you just *need* “Stranger on the Shore.”)

Which had just played on the work box. I didn’t think anything more of it for a week, and then a link to this appeared in my stream:

It never occurred to me that the erhu could stand in for Acker’s clarinet. But yes, it works, quite beautifully. And so I pass it on to you, hoping maybe a little more than usual that you’ll look up this band.

Title note: This was the original title, more or less, to the 1962 Richard Lester film released in the States as Ring-A-Ding Rhythm. Believing that those Yanks wouldn’t understand trad jazz, the producers pasted in some footage of Del Shannon and Gary U.S. Bonds and such, short-circuiting the mood.


  1. Jean »

    24 December 2011 · 12:42 pm

    Merry Christmas, Mr. Hill!

  2. canadienne »

    24 December 2011 · 4:04 pm

    I’ve heard a busker play “Jingle Bells” on the erhu-

    Joyeux Noel, Happy Christmas!

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