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

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Mainstream Giants of Jazz 2007

Robinwood RWP 0026




1. Fine and Dandy
2. Poinciana
3. Like Someone in Love
4. A Smo-o-o-oth One
5. It Could Happen to You
6. Star Dust
7. It's You or No One
8. Sugar
9. My Shining Hour
10. It's All Right with Me
11. On the Alamo
12. St Louis Blues

Scott Hamilton - Tenor sax (tracks 1, 2, 4, 7-12)
Danny Moss - Tenor sax (tracks 1-4, 7, 8, 10-12)
John Pearce - Piano (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11)
Dave Cliff - Guitar (tracks 1, 3-5, 7-9, 11, 12)
Len Skeat - Bass (tracks 1-5, 7-12)
Martin Drew - Drums (tracks 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11)

Jazz musicians keep dying. Perhaps this is not surprising, as jazz is nearing its centenary. Last year's list of losses included British tenor-saxist Danny Moss, who made a name for himself playing in bands led by such people as Vic Lewis, Ted Heath and John Dankworth, before moving to Australia in 1989. He returned from the Antipodes nearly every year to tour in Britain, and this album was recorded on one of those visits in 2007. Danny died eight months later, and this CD is a good reminder of his considerable abilities.

The album's "Giants of Jazz" phrase is justified, since the line-up includes some of the top British musicians, plus American tenorist Scott Hamilton who seems now to live virtually full-time in the UK. The repertoire of a dozen songs may look hackneyed but variety is provided by the sextet splitting up into smaller groups - from John Pearce's solo piano on Star Dust to a quintet that only omits guitarist Dave Cliff. The whole sextet is only heard on four tracks.

Danny Moss's powerful delivery shows no signs of slackening in the opening Fine and Dandy. His outspoken style contrasts with Scott Hamilton's more restrained approach, although both men are equally adept. To generalise, you might describe Scott's tone as light and Danny's tone as dark. Martin Drew does an adroit drum solo and then plays exchanges with the two tenorists. Poinciana has a slower, more beguiling tempo, with the saxists harmonising together before Danny takes off on his own for a long solo, followed by pianist John Pearce.

Danny Moss and Scott Hamilton get their own features - respectively Like Someone in Love and My Shining Hour, accompanied only by guitar and bass. Danny shows us his lyrical side, and Scott refines his solo to a very simple but effective style. Guitarist Dave Cliff is also featured with only Len Skeat's totally reliable bass as backing.

John Pearce's piano solo on Star Dust is one of the high spots of the album. It starts with the verse, where John's reharmonisation is an augury of how he treats the tune itself, freshening it up with unexpected chords. It's You or No One contains an unaccompanied duet by Hamilton and Moss, which is not a battle (as in many two-tenor recordings) but a true collaboration.

It's All Right with Me is taken at a slower tempo than the tearaways we have sometimes heard from others. This leisurely tempo allows both saxists to express their particular kind of euphoria. On the Alamo was one of my father's favourite tunes - and I can understand why, as it has the sort of intriguing chord-sequence which offers plenty of opportunities to improvisers. Both tenorists clearly enjoy soloing on it, as does Dave Cliff. The closing St. Louis Blues allows both players (accompanied only by guitar and bass) to play some humorous tricks in the theme statement, after which Scott's tone in his solo is sublime and Danny adds some characteristic vigour.

This is not a ground-breaking album. Indeed, some people may dismiss it as just an example of musicians working their way through some over-familiar standards. However, the more discriminating will value this CD as proof of the enduring efficacy of the old jazz values - and also as a worthy epitaph for Danny Moss.


Tony Augarde 

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