Clive Wilson's
with Tommy Sancton

Clive Wilson's New Orleans Serenaders, Volume 2, "A Heart Full of Rhythm" BCD-465 (2007) is available from GHB/Jazzology Records.


The New Orleans Serenaders, "The Music of Louis Armstrong and Kid Ory" BCD-446 (2003)

The Original Camellia Jazz Band, "That's My Home" JCD-249 (1995)

The Original Camellia Jazz Band, BCD-304 (1980 & 1982)

Clive plays occasionally at Preservation Hall (call 504.522.2841 for details)
and occasionally at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe (call 504.525.0200 for details)

Clive's memoir: "TIME OF MY LIFE - a Jazz Journey from London to New Orleans"
was published by the University Press of Mississippi in April, 2019.

CD Review from New Orleans Music:
Clive Wilson's New Orleans Serenaders: "Heart Full of Rhythm," GHB BCD-465

This sequel to Clive Wilson's first Serenaders album for GHB is equally eclectic and imaginative. Butch Thompson's detailed and authoritative notes set the scene nicely: "I know I speak for everybody when I say that we aren't comfortable with the term 'revivalist.' We just want to play the music in the way we've learned it from the masters, both live (always best) and from recordings. To us, it's a continuing tradition."

That's what we get here, living jazz, not merely a pastiche, provided by a group of musicians who've more than paid their dues over the years. From the opening relaxed Panama to Get Out of Here (and Go Home), this album includes well-considered treatments of a variety of tunes from standards to rarely played pieces, reflecting a lifetime's love and knowledge of the music.

The title number, I've Got a Heart Full of Rhythm and the poignant ballad If We Never Meet Again are co?credited to Louis Armstrong and Horace Gerlach, who also wrote Swing That Music and edited the music section of Louis Armstrong's eponymous autobiography. The first includes some light, Cottrellish clarinet from Tommy Sancton (whose book is one of the best memoirs of New Orleans in recent times) and commanding horn from Clive. The second features a mellow trombone obbligato behind Clive's vocal and a fine solo from Freddie John plus stylish, Kyleish piano from Butch. Ostrich Walk gets a stylish workout with more fluent clarinet when Sancton shows shades of Darnell Howard to great advantage with sonorous bass from Tom Saunders and Tommy features in a similar vein on the neglected All That I Ask is Love from 1910 (as heard on Mr. Jelly's unforgettable Library of Congress recordings), supported by light brushwork from Norman Emberson. Tom Cat Blues is treated as a habanera, using Jelly's 'Spanish tinge' liberally and maybe touching on Cuban influences that molded the Buena Vista Social Club. We get some well?limned Archeyesque slidework from Freddie John here, but Mr. John excels himself particularly on Wild Man Blues, credited to both Louis and Mr. Jelly on the sheet music but originally copyrighted by Morton under the title Ted Lewis Blues.

Freddie's subtle trombone perhaps incorporates elements of Trummy and Higgy's drive but voiced in his own style. Hoagy's Lyin' to Myself includes some elegant trumpet from Clive and some dextrous piano from Butch. Climax Rag eschews a frantic workout in favor of something more akin to the Morton interpretation with echoes of Albert Nicholas' eloquence and Alvin Alcorn's poise coupled with a touch of Lee Collins' heat, all incorporated along the way.

Plenty of other highlights include unexpected shades of Yancey in an homage to Louis' S.O.L. Blues and a nod towards Ory in Loveless Love among many other pleasures. Here's to Volume Three!


New Orleans music is a siren call for players from all over the world. Trumpeter Clive Wilson emigrated here from England to immerse himself in the Black American ethos at a time when New Orleans. was struggling to overcome entrenched racial hostility. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it was illegal for blacks and whites to socialize publically in the city. Wilson was one of the musicians who helped break that color line.

At Jazz Fest Wilson will lead his band, the New Orleans Serenaders, through a traditional jazz program at Economy Hall featuring the music of Kid Ory, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and others. Wilson is comfortable calling New Orleans home these days, but it took him a long time to get to that point.

"My first visit was in 1964, a long visit during the summer, and I returned in the fall of 1965 and stayed for three years," he recalls."In 1970, I returned here permanently. So I've been here nearly 45 years. I didn't come here to play. I came here to learn how to play. At first, I was a beginner so I was not qualified to play and I was not interested in taking gigs away from working musicians. I was listening and learning. I sat in with brass bands and was hired to actually join a brass band in '66, so I was sort of a regular member of the Young Tuxedo Brass Band. I was also the number-one replacement trumpet in the Olympia Brass Band. I was an apprentice. Some of my influences included Kid Howard, De De Pierce, Percy Humphrey and Kid Thomas; they were all totally different. For a period of time I was imitating Alvin Alcorn -I couldn't stop myself. I knew I had to develop my own style. They liked you if you could pick up what they were doing at first but you were expected to develop your own style. No two trumpeters sounded alike."

Wilson was very aware that the social restructuring engendered by integration allowed him freely to interact with his mentors.

"After the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, it became possible for whites and blacks to play together," he explains. "It couldn't be done before. By 1970 there was a greater emphasis on music in this town; it was accepted and promoted as a serious attraction, so all these clubs opened up on Bourbon Street presenting traditional jazz. There were only a few places before 1970. We became part of the music community because we were needed as musicians to play the gigs. We moved into it slowly but it was sort of inevitable."

By John Swenson