1. Grey Day at Gorey
2. Faces and Places
3. Hang Around
5. Ode to Duke
6. Boogie Stop Shuffle
7. Rising on Thermals
8. After You Stu
9. Step Lightly
10. The Shuffle
Richard Baker - Trombone
Alan Wakeman - Saxes
Neil Hunter - Keyboards
Dave Balen - Drums, percussion
Adrian Litvinoff - Basses
Andra Sparks - Vocals (tracks 3, 5)
I must start by declaring an interest. I knew Adrian Litvinoff when he ran a local arts centre - although it was about 20 years ago. He is the man behind Interplay, which he formed in 2007 and which plays mainly in the Midlands.
It seems appropriate that the repertoire includes Charles Mingus's Boogie Stop Shuffle, as (like Mingus) Litvinoff leads the group with strong double bass. Adrian wrote all but two of the tunes on this debut CD, and they are all melodious and memorable. Singer Andra Sparks guests on two vocal tracks, although her pitching is occasionally uncertain.
The music lacks a certain polish, suggesting that the quintet is
still feeling its way, although the arrangements are warm and imaginative.
There is a wide range of styles - from the funkiness of Island
via the dreamy buoyancy of Rising on Thermals to the African
influence in The Shuffle. And there are some good solos, especially
from the very talented saxophonist Alan Wakeman. Alan supplies some
smart soprano sax on Hang Around and he states the theme of
Rising on Thermals with feeling. But then he has played for
Graham Collier, John Dankworth and Don Rendell. Trombonist Richard
Baker also makes some worthwhile contributions, having graduated from
classical music to jazz. The rhythm section fulfils its role confidently,
with agreeable solos from all three members.
So - not the finest CD ever recorded but a more than respectable start for a band making its very first album.