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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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STAN TRACEY QUARTET

Senior Moment

Resteamed RSJ 108

 

 


1. Afro-Charlie Meets the White Rabbit
2. Duffy's Circus
3. Dream of Many Colours
4. Rocky Mount
5. Triple Celebration
6. Stemless
The Grandad Suite
7. Benology
8. January's Child
9. Portrait of Katie
10. Zach's Dream

Stan Tracey - Piano
Simon Allen - Saxes
Andy Cleyndert - Bass
Clark Tracey - Drums

 

Now that he has reached his senior moments (Stan Tracey was 82 when this CD was recorded), the leader of this quartet shows no signs of going quietly - and his playing can still uncannily resemble the rebelliousness of Thelonious Monk. Chris Parker's sleeve-note warns against comparing Tracey and Monk, but I'm afraid the comparisons are unavoidable - and they are not odious.

All the compositions are by Tracey, but the opening Afro-Charlie Meets the White Rabbit (already performed by different line-ups on previous Tracey albums) might have been written by Monk, as could several other pieces on this CD. Stan's solos also reveal the Monk influence in their stabbing notes and unexpected chords. The resemblance is accentuated here by the presence of saxist Simon Allen, making the quartet occasionally reminiscent of Thelonious' most famous quartet with Charlie Rouse on tenor sax. However, Simon seems equally adept on a number of different saxophones.

The comparison with Thelonious is not intended to suggest that Stan is anything but his own man with his own personal style, which includes many elements. Stan's tendency to dig away at the piano keyboard suggests he is digging for gold - which he often finds in this very worthwhile album. The main focus is on the Grandad Suite, which was inspired by Stan's grandchildren. It starts with the undulating Benology, which includes an airy soprano sax solo by Simon Allen. January's Child has an intriguing melody which unwinds slowly. Portrait of Katie suggests that Katie is a lively, perhaps wild, child. Stan's solo flies freely, and Simon's does the same, backed only by Clark Tracey's drums. The suite ends with Zach's Dream, an enigmatic jazz waltz.

Of the other tracks, Duffy's Circus begins with a long, resonant bass solo from Andy Cleyndert, leading into a hustling piece driven along by bass and drums, forcefully punctuated by Stan's piano. Dream of Many Colours illustrates the pensive aspect of Tracey's writing, with a wistful soprano sax solo by Simon and a thoughtful solo from Stan. Simon Allen is the star of Rocky Mount, playing an adventurously swirling solo. Triple Celebration uses the calypso rhythm of Sonny Rollins' St Thomas, although Clark Tracey's drums are a bit too low down in the mix to contribute the necessary percussive element - although Clark gets to do a showy solo. Simon Allen's tenor sax solo even reminds me of Rollins' trademark gruffness. Stemless is a grooving blues.

Some of the tune titles may mystify listeners: it would have been useful if the sleeve-notes had explained the stories behind them. But this is only a very minor grouse when set against the superior music that fills this disc - another winner from Stan Tracey.

Tony Augarde



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