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



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STAN TRACEY OCTET

The Later Works

Resteamed RSJ 109

 

 


CD 1 - The Hong Kong Suite
1. Sweet Lips
2. Lunar Lanterns
3. Moon Cake
4. Dragon Boats
5. Crackers and Bangers

CD 2 - The Amandla Suite
1. Cottons and Bobbins
2. Humberto's Dream
3. The Cuban Connection
4. Building Bridges
5. Unison

Simon Allen - Tenor sax
Mornington Lockett - Tenor sax, soprano sax
Sammy Mayne - Alto sax
Guy Barker - Trumpet
Mark Nightingale - Trombone
Stan Tracey - Piano
Andrew Cleyndert - Double bass
Clark Tracey - Drums

 

Appearing on CD for the first time, these two five-piece suites by Stan Tracey were commissioned in very different circumstances as Clark Tracey explains in a brief sleeve-note. The Hong Kong Suite was commissioned by Lord (Chris) Patten to mark the British handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 and was first performed in the Governor's private residence there. The Amandla Suite (a Zulu word meaning `power') was commissioned as a result of the merger of NALGO with two other trade unions in 1993 to form the vast white-collar union, UNISON, and was first performed in a hotel on the outskirts of Newcastle.

It is a great pleasure to have these two suites on record now as they feature some of Stan's best writing for the octet line-up. Full of deceptively simple tunes and crisp ensemble arrangements, both suites give plenty of space to the high-class soloists in the octet. Of the three sax players Mornington Lockett, his tenor bubbling over like a rich stew, is in great form especially on the loping rhythm of Lunar Lanterns and also, briefly, on soprano on the up-tempo Crackers and Bangers; Simon Allen, now a regular in Stan's quartet, provides several straight-ahead and warm-toned solos and the very promising altoist Sammy Mayne is in exuberant Cannonball mode on a number of tracks, notably Building Bridges.

Long-time Tracey collaborators Guy Barker and Mark Nightingale are in outstanding form throughout, while Tracey himself takes something of a back seat, confining himself to some Ellingtonian intros and a typically quirky solo on the jauntily attractive Humberto's Dream.

Stan has benefited for many years now from the wonderfully consistent support of Andrew Cleyndert on bass and Clark Tracey on drums. It is right to give these two fine musicians the highest praise. Cleyndert is as good a bass player as any on the British jazz scene: rock-solid in support and an inventive soloist. Clark Tracey's drumming is never intrusive but always provides the perfect rhythmic base.

If anything, the UNISON-inspired second CD has the best tunes and wider range of solos but both suites provide some excellent music. I enjoyed them immensely and can recommend this double CD without reservation.

George Stacy



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