1. Blue Nun
4. Chapter One
6. Dee's Dilemma
7. Crazy She Calls Me
10. The Meeting
Jim Richardson - Double bass
Bob Martin - Alto sax
Phil Lee - Guitar
Clark Tracey or Matt Fishwick - Drums
We haven't reviewed any albums on the Actone label before, but this is not surprising as the company was only formed in 2007. Two jazz fans - Fred Fuller and Don Burrell - ran regular jazz sessions at various London pubs and decided (as pure amateur enthusiasts) to issue recordings of some of the artists that they heard. One night Don went out for a drink with bassist Jim Richardson, and Jim gave him numerous CDs of material that Jim had recorded over the years. This album is one of two assembled from that material.
Jim Richardson is something of a jazz veteran, having played for such people as Nat Temple (for a summer season in the Isle of Wight!), John Dankworth, Dick Morrissey, Vic Ash, Georgie Fame and Nigel Kennedy. Guitarist Phil Lee has been around for almost as long, working for the likes of Graham Collier, Mike Gibbs, Tony Coe and Michael Garrick. Both the drummers are well know on the British jazz scene, and the only newcomer is saxist Bob Martin, an American who actually came to London after working in the Buddy Rich Big Band.
At any rate, these musicians' experience comes through brightly on this album right from the start. J. J. Johnson's Blue Nun is a rabble-rousing up-tempo flurry that displays Bob Martin's dexterity on the alto and Phil Lee's facility on guitar. Clark Tracey tops it all off with an outstanding drum solo. Mitch is a delicate bounce and Liz Anne is even dreamier.
Phil Lee contributes a couple of originals: the title-track (a mid-tempo tune which suggests that Bob Martin should be much better known) and Denial, which opens with the double bass (arco and then pizzicato) from Jim Richardson, with the drums clattering in the background, before Bob Martin comes in with the angular theme. Both he and Phil Lee play worthy solos.
Crazy She Calls Me is delivered as a feature for Phil Lee's educated guitar, accompanied simply by the double bass for most of the track, although Bob Martin adds a fine chorus on alto. Passages is a subtle bossa nova, but Wayne Shorter's Nefertiti has a tendency to drift. The Meeting ends the CD with a bright tempo and duetting between sax and guitar which reminds me a bit of Lennie Tristano's similar voicings. Jim Richardson gets one of his few chances for a bass solo.
Jim Richardson has put together an exquisite quartet and he supplies a solid bass throughout the album, which is given added interest by the choice of unhackneyed tunes.