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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Jack Ashby




Black Box BBJ 2019



Geoff Eales - piano
Jim Mullen - guitar ( 5 & 10 )
Roy Babbington - double bass ( 1-3, 5, 7, 9 & 10 )
Mark Fletcher - drums ( 1-3, 5, 7, 9 & 10 )
Recorded September 6, 7 & 14 2000 at Gateway Studios.

1. A Face Like Yours
2. I Should Care
3. Killer Jane
4. They Didn't Believe Me
5. Hannah's Riff
6. But Beautiful
7. Sometime Ago
8. Hotting It Up
9. Song For My Mother
10. So Long Sadness
11. That Final Look

This is a follow up album to "Mountains Of Fire " which I had the pleasure of reviewing well over a year ago. According to the liner the earlier disc was "a vehicle for breathing new life into a series of well-known standards, this CD offers the listener far more in the way of totally original material. To counter-balance this I have included some old favourites." This serves as a pretty accurate summation of the fare contained herein as expressed in the leader's own words.

Geoff Eales is rapidly coming to occupy the territory in this country which is inhabited in The States by such worthies as Oscar Peterson, Monty Alexander and Kenny Barron. That is to say they each epitomise the modern mainstream whilst managing to impose their own styles on the music, and, at the same time, doing so in a completely tasteful manner. Eales is possessed of a sure and varied touch and has sufficient technique to express his ideas in a lucid manner. One of the refreshing aspects of his playing is the fact that he does not allow his facility to dictate his delivery. He does not, at any time, resort to glibness or coast to fill space.

Eales has a well-developed sense of harmony and has obviously listened to such as McCoy Tyner and Cedar Walton, not only does he use their varied, often dense voicings, but there is also a great sense of drive in this area of his playing. He has an abundance of melodic invention and is the type of pianist ( as indicated by his CV ) who is more than comfortable in the many situations faced by the modern, working piano player. His compositions are interesting and often touching, and his versions of the better known numbers are assured and yet personal.

It is always a pleasure to hear Jim Mullen and this excursion is no exception. Roy Babbington and Mark Fletcher are quite simply as good as you would hope to find on their chosen instruments and fulfil their roles here with style and confidence. This is the sort of disc that will probably come as a most pleasant surprise to the listener who normally focuses on the modern/mainstream of American pianists.

Dick Stafford

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