1. Seventh Daze
3. Bustling Stomach
5. My Romance
9. Claire and Kristina
10. Rowing Blues
11. In Your Own Sweet Way
13. Blackwaterside Reprise
Tim Whitehead - Tenor sax, soprano sax
Tony Woods - Alto sax, tenor sax, soprano sax, alto clarinet
Patrick Bettison - Bass guitar
Milo Fell - Drums, percussion
Jazz musicians must sometimes feel that everything that can be said in jazz has already been said. So they are left with the difficult option of finding a completely new path for jazz or looking for other possibilities. One possibility which seems to be increasing in popularity is to form a group with an unusual line-up. This has certainly been the case with recent albums I have reviewed by Charlie Mariano, Jason Stein, Brass Jaw, and Khuljit Bhamra.
Kwartet is a pianoless quartet consisting of two saxophonists, bass and drums. They make the most of the line-up by interweaving the saxophones above the bass and drums. The empathy between the saxophonists is clear right from the opening title-track, where the saxes swap fours sympathetically before a good bass guitar solo. Many tracks display this almost telepathic interchange between Tim Whitehead and Tony Woods, who often pick up one another's suggestions and even harmonise unexpectedly together.
Most tracks are driven by the resonant bass guitar of Patrick Bettison and the echoic drums of Milo Fell, who both take worthwhile solos. For instance, in My Romance they both contribute interesting interludes. This jazz standard is delivered gracefully, with the alto sax sounding as poised as Paul Desmond. This is one of three standards on the album, the others being Charlie Parker's Confirmation, which includes almost supernatural interplay between the saxists, and Dave Brubeck's In Your Own Sweet Way, whose tranquility makes a rewarding contrast to some of the more outspoken tracks.
All the other tunes were written by members of the group. Underlined and Claire and Kristina are pensive ballads but the other compositions are extrovert - mostly invigorating, although the saxes are sometimes tempted to scream and screech. Yet I would stress that, for the most part, Tim Whitehead and Tony Woods work together in almost unbelievable harmony, which makes this album outstanding for most of its 71 minutes. For the most readily appealing tracks, I would choose the three standards (possibly because they are easy to find one's way around) and Dilemma, a catchy piece which was also on Tony Woods' album Wind Shadows.
Two comments on the sleeve-notes. It would have been nice to know which saxist was playing at which point. And the music for My Romance was written by Richard Rodgers, not Rogers!