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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




Black Box Music

‘The Ultimate Late Night Listening Experience’

Various Artists

Black Box Music

BBJ1009

 

    1. I Fall In Love Too Easily Geoff Eales (Mountains of Fire - BBJ1006)
    2. Green Liz Fletcher (Mellow Mania - BBJ1001)
    3. Lament For Mary Caixa (Ball and Biscuit - BBJ1007)
    4. Sympathy Richard Niles (Santa Rita - BBJ1005)
    5. I Can’t Let Go Now Kate Dimbleby (Good Vibrations - BBJ 1004)
    6. In A Sentimental Mood Nigel Hitchcock (The Snakeranch Sessions - BBJ 1002)
    7. The Meaning Of The Blues Liz Fletcher (Mellow Mania - BBJ1001)
    8. Young And Foolish Geoff Eales (Mountains Of Fire - BBJ1006)
    9. Watercolours Steve Topping (Time And Distance - BBJ1003)
    10. After The First Udu Caixa (Ball And Biscuit - BBJ1007)

 

As the name of the compilation suggests this is late night listening and if it’s quality and relaxed entertainment you are looking for then here you are. Featured are several exceptional performers from the field of contemporary music. Sadly no accompanying musicians are listed in the sparse cover notes.

Tracks 1 and 8 feature pianist Geoff Eales and on the first he is accompanied by Nigel Hitchcock. Both are fine musicians and work well together. There is a downside to this track – Hitchcock’s playing in the higher register is occasionally distorted which may well be a fault of the sound engineer. At other times he sounds slightly out of tune and the slow vibrato doesn’t always work. Nevertheless I enjoyed it. Track 8 sees Eales with bass and drums accompaniment where his various piano talents are well displayed.

Nigel Hitchcock gives a solo performance on track 6, Ellington’s ‘In A Sentimental Mood.’ Even though at times he seems to snatch his notes it does display his wonderful talent. A fresh approach and poise are displayed here and there is an innovative thrust evident on what is one of the Duke’s most performed compositions.

It is some ten years since Liz Fletcher, now well established, came on the scene and the two featured tracks are from her recording debut ‘Mellow Mania’ made in 1997. Both highlight Liz’s unique style, phrasing and well thought out approach to singing ballads.

Caixa is a small group made up of a number of London Symphony Orchestra musicians together with Stan Sulzman playing saxophone and flute and Pete Saberton on piano. Over some twenty years Sulzman, playing with a Getz-like quality, has been at the forefront of contemporary jazz as well as being a noted jazz educator. The first track is a haunting composition showing Sulzman’s perfect breath control and feeling for the piece. The second item has a sombre introduction that eventually gives way to a pleasant passage containing South American undertones and featuring soprano saxophone.

Kate Dimbleby is featured on the ballad ‘I Can’t Let Go Now’ which is performed well and fits in with the overall context of the disc but this one track is insufficient to make any real comment on her capabilities.

‘Sympathy’ features that ‘complete’ musician guitarist Richard Niles whose background is second to none. This is a duet with flautist Nelson Rangell together with a delicate string accompaniment. I assume the composition is Niles’ - it shows superb musicianship and conjures up a myriad of images.

Steve Topping is new to me and one track makes it difficult to assess his talents. Here we have a soporific composition that goes well with the rest of the album.

Jack Ashby



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