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

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Bridging the Gap

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19374  




1. Falling in Love with Love
2. Huggin' Higgins
3. Overjoyed
4. I'm Old Fashioned
5. Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)
6. Bodhisattva
7. NER Blues
8. One Less Bell to Answer
9. The More I See You
10. Crazy Life
11. Little Girl
12. More Than You Know
13. Gotta Get a Hold of Myself
Eddie Metz Jr. - Drums
Rossano Sportiello - Piano
Nicki Parrott - Bass, vocals
Harry Allen - Tenor sax (tracks 2, 5, 6, 8, 13)
John Allred - Trombone (tracks 2, 6, 8, 10, 13)



The Swinging Jazz Party at Blackpool is sadly a thing of the past, thanks largely to lack of support from the Great (?) British Public. It is a pity, as the Party was a jovial annual event which introduced me to many artists I had never heard in person before. They included the three musicians featured on this delectable CD. I have already reviewed a fine Arbors Jazz album by two of them: pianist Rossano Sportiello and singing bassist Nicki Parrott ( which illustrated the pair's musical togetherness. Drummer Ed Metz Jr. was also a welcome regular at the Swinging Jazz Party: a drummer for all seasons, who accompanied every kind of musician with equal empathy.

The trio might be described as cosmopolitan, because Ed Metz is American, Rossano Sportiello is Italian, and Nicki Parrott comes from Australia. And their repertoire is wide-ranging: from Stevie Wonder's Overjoyed via Steely Dan's Bodhisattva to Gino Vannelli's Crazy Life, alongside a healthy number of jazz standards. As you might expect, the three make beautiful music together - right from the opening Falling in Love with Love, which has an easy bounce. Sportiello's delicate fingering is a delight, as is Nicki Parrott's firm double bass which comes through solidly, with the sort of full sound that one associates with Ray Brown. For a drummer-led group, the drums are recorded somewhat low down in the mix: the only query I have about this recording. But you can hear how well Metz handles the complex rhythms of Bodhisattva.

For variety, the trio is joined on several numbers by two other graduates from the Blackpool School of Jazz: Harry Allen with his smooth, Getzian tenor sax, and John Allred, whose fluent trombone is a distinct asset. Sample how the two men interweave in Huggin' Higgins - a tribute to pianist Eddie Higgins. Harry Allen is also worth hearing for his breathy interpretation of the very slow Count Your Blessings.

I am particularly glad to hear Stevie Wonder's Overjoyed performed by the trio, as this song is not often heard but deserves to be widely known for its memorable grace. NER Blues is an Ed Metz original, with Rossano Sportiello doing a very lifelike impersonation of Count Basie. I had to turn up the volume to hear the drum solos, which reinforces my belief that the drums are recorded too low.

Bacharach & David's One Less Bell to Answer is the only chance we get to hear Nicki Parrott's alluring voice. She is a much better vocalist than many of the upcoming self-proclaimed "jazz singers". Harry Allen and John Allred add sympathetic solos and accompaniment. Little Girl pays homage to pianist Ralph Sutton, with Sportiello appropriately going into stride mode. The concluding Gotta Get a Hold of Myself was written by Ed Metz Jr.'s father and includes a typically unshowy but brilliant drum solo.

The album got its title from the fact that Ed Metz feels he is bridging the gaps between the different kinds of music he heard when he was growing up. As he suggests in his sleeve-note, the gaps are illusory: it is all "good music".

Tony Augarde

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