The Dime Notes started their UK tour at The Brunton in Musselburgh tonight to a well attended and appreciative audience. Who and what though are “The Dime Notes”…well the answer to the first question is David Horniblow (clarinet), Andrew Oliver (piano), Dave Kelbie (rhythm guitar) and Tom Wheatley (acoustic bass). Sebastian Girardot (acoustic bass) is also listed on their website but was not in this line up on stage. The answer to the second question is a jazz band that takes us back to the early formative years of 20th century American Jazz…back to musicians like Jelly Roll Morton and Bix Beiderbecke. With The Dime Notes we go right back to those first early recordings of jazz (100 years ago now), and forwards for those formative 20 years or so to names maybe more recognisable to modern audiences - names including Duke Ellington and Sidney Bechet. I have to admit that these early jazz years are ones I know far less than I should about, but that is not a problem here as Andrew Oliver (piano) shares his wealth of knowledge on the subject in a friendly and informative manner as he introduces the music and never strays into the mode of a lecturer.
As a band of musicians, the individual members have a wealth of experience. Andrew Oliver originally hails from the USA and is an outstanding jazz pianist, and David Horniblow is one of the most in demand clarinettists on the jazz circuit and has played with so many household names over the years (Chris Barber to name just one). Playing with The Dime Notes gives David the opportunity to explore the music of some of his favourite clarinettists from this period of music. Dave Kelbie on rhythm guitar is the Scottish member of the band, and those early years of Spanish rhythms and European Gypsy Jazz coming into the melting pot that became jazz are very close to David’s musical heart. Tom Wheatley is one of the best acoustic bass players that I have seen in a long time, and his natural style seems so at home here, but if he ever has a break in his busy performing schedule and you are looking for a great rockabilly player, this is your man too. Individually “The Dime Notes” are musicians that I would be happy to watch as solo performers any night of the week, but collectively their joint enthusiasm for the music they play together is infectious.
The Dime Notes are not a historical jazz ensemble recreating note for note earlier recordings. Their very musical line up (no trumpet or trombone for example) means that new arrangements have been made of classics, but these arrangements have stayed close to the originals and captured the spirit of that early jazz age. There are some real surprises here though. Early jazz was a formation of many different elements into a new picture, but as the years went on, that picture was again broken up into many different pieces (like a jigsaw puzzle), rearranged endlessly and completely new musical avenues explored. In the music of The Dime Notes you can clearly hear the beginnings of rockabilly and rock’n’roll music. One early song “The Dream” originally attributed to the little known about “Jack The Bear”, I for some reason can hear The Cure so easily doing a cover version of.
The Dime Notes also write new music in the style of earlier years, and it is so well done as to be seamless with the rest of the set.
My first encounter with this band, and I like them a lot. They also have their first album out on CD and it is also available on retro vinyl (but not shellac 78 yet).
The Dime Notes by the way take their names from the name given to a 10 dollar bill (often payment to a musician) in The Cab Calloway Hepster Dictionary from 1939.
For more information on the album and full tour dates visit The Dime Notes at their website
Review by Tom King