2. You and the Night and the Music
3. Seven Steps to Heaven
4. Just Friends
5. Blues March
6. Menina Ilza
7. Speak No Evil
Andrzej Baranek- Piano
Nick Blacka - Bass
Steve Chadwick - Trumpet, cornet
Tony Ormesher - Guitar
Rob Turner - Drums
Quite a lot of jazz critics are always on the look-out for "the next big thing" - and this CD is an example, with several reviewers praising it highly. Some of this Manchester-based group's playing is impressive but there are several flaws which lower expectations. For instance, their version of You and the Night and the Music is original in its unusually fast tempo but trumpeter Steve Chadwick commits several fluffs during his solo as well as apparently not knowing the tune precisely, and the quintet's stop-time riffs fail to cohere with the guitar and drum solos.
Seven Steps to Heaven starts off as what seems like the trumpeter's free improvisation above an ostinato passage and it doesn't become recognisable as Victor Feldman's composition untii nearly four minutes through, when there are hints of the melody, which soon revert to that same riff with the trumpet fluttering on top. Just Friends also has an irrritating riff which lasts for the whole track. Such devices give a new slant to jazz standards but the tunes don't gain much from the unusual treatment.
Blues March starts in march tempo - as Benny Golson's piece should - but switches to 4/4 and 6/8 at various speeds. The variety makes it different but still cannot top Art Blakey's classic version. No composers are listed for the tunes, so we are not told who wrote the intriguingly melodic Menina Ilza (although I think it is by Hermeto Pascoal) but it is the most pleasant track on the album. The closing Speak No Evil is another tune with a prominent riff which soon gets on one's nerves but has a good guitar solo. If you leave the track running for a minute and a half after it seems to have finished, you get a short, frantic epilogue. Don't ask me why.
Altogether, this album leaves me lukewarm - and it lasts for barely 53 minutes, which is not exactly lavish.