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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Jazzizit JITCD 0951



1. Soul Station
2. Winelight
3. Farmer's Trust
4. Falling in Love with Love
5. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
6. Li'l Darlin'
7. My Love
8. Five Brothers
9. I'm Glad There is You

Derek Nash - Tenor sax, alto sax, soprano sax, baritone sax
Jan Lundgren - Piano
Geoff Gascoyne - Bass
Steve Brown - Drums

The publicity handout for this CD quotes an observant remark about the leader: "Derek Nash is one of the unsung heroes of British jazz. His brilliance on different kinds of saxophones is matched by his abilities as an arranger".

These wise words (by a reviewer called Tony Augarde) hold true for this new album, which was virtually accidental. As Derek explains in the sleeve-notes: "The session was totally unplanned". Derek, who is also a recording engineer, was producing an album at Clown's Pocket Studio for Trudy Kerr. "She and the band were so well rehearsed that they were finished by lunchtime on the second day. Given that Jan [Lundgren] was over from Sweden and his flight back wasn't until the next morning, I took advantage of an empty studio, an all-star band that was warmed up with microphones all in place, and pulled out charts that I had been playing on my 'guest with the house band' circuit, and off we went".

Without any rehearsing, the quartet recorded nine tunes with no more than two takes of each. The results show no signs of disorganisation: here are just four superb musicians creating lovely music, seemingly without effort. As Derek also observes: "The tunes were diverse". They are a palatable mixture of jazz standards and lesser-known numbers, including Pat Metheny's Farmer's Trust, Gerry Mulligan's Five Brothers and a Duke Ellington rarity.

The star of the session is undoubtedly Derek Nash himself. This is actually his first album as leader since 2000, but he has played with many other artists, including Dave Grusin, David Sanborn, Branford Marsalis and Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, as well as running his own bands: Sax Appeal and Protect the Beat. This all suggests versatility, which is one of Derek's strengths - although it may have worked against him because he has spread his net so widely. On the slow tunes here, he shows that he can play ballads with sensitivity on four different types of saxophone. And in faster numbers his dexterity is admirable.

The opening Soul Station is a funky blues by Hank Mobley, taken at a loping tempo which fits it perfectly. Derek grooves infectiously without going over the top, while pianist Jan Lundgren proves a sympathetic accompanist and inventive soloist. Lundgren has been praised on this website before and he deserves acclaim. Unfortunately his solo on this first number is interrupted by a brief drop-out at around four minutes (on my copy, at least), which is not a good advertisement for the recording.

Grover Washington Jr.'s composition Winelight is restrained and understated, with Derek providing an evocatively deep tone on tenor sax . Steve Brown imitates Vernel Fournier's drum rhythm from Ahmad Jamal's classic version of Poinciana. Jan Lundgren's piano solo is a model of good taste. Nash switches to soprano sax for Farmer's Trust. Geoff Gascoyne's double bass here and throughout the album is a tower of strength.

Derek takes up his alto sax for Falling in Love with Love, with some slight growls to avoid blandness. Steve Brown's four-bar breaks are well constructed but I always feel he could let himself go a little more. Polka Dots and Moonbeams is one of the CD's highspots: proving that Nash can sound poetic even on the bulky baritone saxophone.

Li'l Darlin' is taken at an unusually fast tempo but works remarkably well. As Derek's sleeve-notes say, it is "done in the style of Cute" which means plenty of brushwork soloing from Steve Brown. My Love is a rarely-heard Duke Ellington composition, from his third Sacred Concert in 1973. Derek is lyrical and poignant on the soprano sax - an instrument which can be unforgiving on slow numbers but which sounds beautiful here.

Five Brothers is Gerry Mulligan's cheeky response to the famous Four Brothers, with Nash dextrous on baritone, shadowed by the Lundgren piano. The CD ends with a graceful but swinging performance of I'm Glad There is You, rounding off a strikingly good album recorded in just three hours.


Tony Augarde 

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