Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:


Colin TOUCHIN (b.1953) : Sonatella (1990)
Christopher BEST (b.1958) : Then Again
Robert RAMSKILL (b.1950) : Jazz Sonatina (1985)
Julian HELLABY (b.1956) : Medley on Jazz Standards
Julian Hellaby (piano)
Recorded Warwick 1998
ASC CS CD39 [c. 65.00]
ASC Records
Copies can be obtained from Julian Hellaby for £9.00 incl.p&p

Colin Touchin's Sonatella is a delightful piece in three short sections written in a quite accessible, somewhat jazzy style. It was written for Peter Donohoe, a friend of the composer, who played in duo with him and who had written a piece for them. Thus, this enjoyable short piece is a small tribute to return the favour.

Christopher Best's Then Again was commissioned by Julian Hellaby. The composer tells us that. at the time of writing the piece, he was "preoccupied with unifying his approach towards harmony, melody and form". This fairly substantial work is in seven sections all sharing the same five note groupings, thus providing a form of theme and variations, in all but name; hence the title Then Again. The music is very colourful, accessible and jazzy, especially so in the third section Presto. Quite enjoyable again.

Robert Ramskill's Jazz Sonatina of 1985 is exactly that. The final Quodlibet, a "tongue-in-cheek medley of familiar tunes" (I must admit that I only spotted British Grenadiers!), concludes this lovely short work with a joyous light-heartedness.

Julian Hellaby, who is connected with these three composers and works, ends this highly entertaining recital with his own Medley on Jazz Standards. Expertly composed, fairly straightforward improvisations on four well known jazz numbers: Misty (Garner), Lullaby of Birdland (Shearing), That Old Devil Called Love (Fisher & Roberts) and that good ol' Ellington classic 'Take The A Train'. Lighter music maybe, but quite enjoyable.

To sum-up, four composers who do not shy away from writing entertaining music in an accessible, often jazzy idiom. Maybe no great masterpieces here, though all these works are well crafted and may even be somewhat tricky to play. They make-up for a really satisfying programme played with aplomb and panache by Julian Hellaby. Try this and you will realise that contemporary music can also give a lot of pleasure.

Hubert Culot

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