Writing a piece like this gives me the space to mention the artists, entertainers and players that really inspired this session, which was cut in a lively situation in the studio, serving up a selection of R&B and rock’n’roll standards, some new stuff and a couple of de-arranged numbers, such as ‘It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie’ and ‘Miss Bombilla Brown’, which I used to knock out with my old friends Sumpen’s Swingsters from Stockholm.
‘Roll ‘Em Pete’ was one of the first boogie woogie items that left a deep impression on me. Pete Johnson was one of the pianists my father listened to, along with Albert Ammons and Meade Lux-Lewis. ‘Evolution’ was written by the Oscar Wilde of the blues, Cousin Joe Pleasant, with whom I worked on some shows in 1974. Later on I was with a band called Juice On The Loose, named after one of Joe’s original pieces. He and I both loved Professor Longhair and the song of his I’ve recorded for this CD is ‘Misery’, an offshoot from ‘Tipitina’, a number I learned from working with Dr John, along with ‘Goodnight Irene’, which has the James Booker brand all over it.
Pete Thomas, my sax player with Diz and the Doormen back in 80s, introduced me to three tenor giants from the Fats Domino band: Walter Kimble, Roger Lewis and Mr Lee Allen. We recorded “Bluecoat Man” for Ace with a cast of London musicians including Don Weller, Pete Scott and the man Mac Rebennack affectionately called, Fonky Knuckle, the great Kieran O’Connor on drums. ‘One More Song’ is pure Fats. ‘I Got It’ is my favourite Little Richard tune.
In 1984 I cut a session with legendary Big Jay McNeely, who topped the Billboard charts with ‘Deacon’s Hop’ and also had a hit with ‘Something On Your Mind’. I was really fortunate to track him down in Europe to play on this album. He inspired the title track, ‘Tonky Honk’, which goes out to everyone mentioned here and to all the people who helped me along this road.
By Diz Watson