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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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CURIOUS PARADISE

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33 Records 33JAZZ 164

 

 



1. The Peak of Time
2. The Jaunt
3. Depth of Field
4. Night Light
5. How So?
6. The Return
7. Vincent's Dream
8. The Tribute
Pete Oxley – Electric, acoustic, slide and synth guitars
Julian Nicholas – Tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet
Phil Peskett – Piano, keyboards
Oli Hayhurst – Acoustic and electric basses
Russ Morgan – Drums, percussion

The third album from Pete Oxley's group, Curious Paradise, continues to evoke comparisons with Pat Metheny's bands. This is understandable, since a track like Depth of Field not only has echoes of the Metheny guitar sound but Phil Peskett's keyboards recall the style of Lyle Mays when he plays with Metheny. However, the most important Metheny resemblance is that both bands specialise in melody – something that often takes second or third place in jazz musicians' priorities. Pete Oxley composed all the tunes on this album and he is not afraid to write gorgeous melodies. Some listeners may find them almost sentimental in their richness but I love them – just as I love the Metheny groups at their most tuneful.

Oxley's quintet, Curious Paradise, has plenty of the talent necessary to create beautiful music. Julian Nicholas is equally enticing on tenor sax, soprano sax and bass clarinet, while Phil Peskett draws some lovely sounds from the keyboards in his solos. Savour his thoughtful piano at the start of Vincent's Dream. Oxley himself, playing a variety of guitars, adds to the richness of the aural mix: sounding like a violin on How So? and a sitar on The Return.

On his website, Pete Oxley says that his father used to listen to such composers as Vaughan Williams and Elgar. I may be wrong, but I suspect that some of the characteristically English feeling in their music may have influenced Pete. The adjective "pastoral" has been applied to Curious Paradise and the band's music certainly has the fresh, airy atmosphere of wide-open landscapes. The opening track, The Peak of Time, seems to float along effortlessly, while Night Light has the placidity of a Vaughan Williams piece.

In fact the music on this album seems to draw on all kinds of influences – from jazz fusion to progressive rock. But the influences cohere into a convincing whole – a vision which Pete Oxley shares with us, for our pleasure.

Tony Augarde

 

 

 

 



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