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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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GEOFF EALES

Mountains of Fire

Nimbus Alliance NI 6158

 

 


1. Here, There and Everywhere
2. Like Someone in Love
3. Autumn Leaves
4. Young and Foolish
5. Falling in Love Again
6. Blues for Shirl
7. You Must Believe in Spring
8. Have You Met Miss Jones?
9. I Fall in Love too Easily
10. Stella by Starlight
11. A Child is Born
12. Mountains of Fire
13. Some Other Time

Geoff Eales - Piano
Nigel Hitchcock - Alto sax (tracks 6, 9, 12)
Roy Babbington - Bass (tracks 1-5, 7, 8, 10, 11)
Laurence Cottle - Bass guitar (tracks 6, 9, 12)
Mike Smith - Drums (tracks 1-5, 7, 8, 10, 11)
Ian Thomas - Drums (tracks 6, 9, 12)

 

The Nimbus company deserves our thanks for reissuing this album, which was Geoff Eales' first jazz CD. Geoff wasn't exactly a "new kid on the block", as he had been playing professionally for years, describing himself as "studio musician, accompanist to the 'stars' and part-time jazz musician". He worked with such well-known performers as Julie Andrews, Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. However, in 1998 he decided that he ought to concentrate on "carving a career for myself as an artist in my own right" - as a jazz pianist. He formed a trio with bassist Roy Babbington and drummer Mike Smith and made this debut CD.

The album impressed me right from the start, which is a bang rather than a whimper. As a devotee of two-fisted pianists like Oscar Peterson, I love the power and swing that Geoff and his trio injected into the opening number - and several tracks thereafter. Most of the tunes are jazz standards but Eales refreshes them with his own interpretations. For instance, his version of Falling in Love Again is very different from the classic Marlene Dietrich rendition. He treads sensitively through the song, interpolating a quote from Dave Brubeck's It's a Raggy Waltz and swinging with the greatest of ease. Roy Babbington adds a melodic solo and Mike Smith swaps fours with Geoff. Like Someone in Love is equally placid yet swinging. And the oft-performed Autumn Leaves is enlivened with semi-classical passages mixed with an easy bounce.

Three of the tracks use alto-saxist Nigel Hancock and a different bassist and drummer. Two of these items are originals by Geoff Eales. Blues for Shirl is a straightforward blues with an animated bass guitar solo by Ian Thomas, while the title-track is a fierily atmospheric number. The other quartet piece is I Fall in Love too Easily, where Nigel Hancock's alto is heart-rending.

The album ends with Eales alone at the piano playing Some Other Time, a touching performance of a beautiful Leonard Bernstein tune (from the musical On the Town) which shows that Geoff is capable of conveying all kinds of moods. Some of his recent albums have worried me with their less accessible music, consisting mainly of Geoff's own compositions - which can't match the melodiousness of the tunes on this CD. I still think he is at his best playing jazz standards, and this is one of his finest albums.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk

 

See also review by Dick Stafford



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