2. Talk on the Step
5. A Bit of Light
6. Nights of Sober Solitude
Dan Messore - Guitar
Steve Waterman - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Lee Goodall - Flute, alto sax
Aidan Thorne - Bass
Ollie Howell - Drums
Some of the releases on the Babel label are devoted to free improvisation - which often means painful squeaking and honking sounds, without any melody. So it is a pleasure to encounter this album which not only contains plenty of melody but also uses restrained sound that doesn't blast your ears off.
In fact leader Dan Messore has a guitar style which is halfway between electric and acoustic, providing a quiet but effective sound. Another gentle sound is Lee Goodall's flute. Messore said that he "wanted the feel of the album to be spring-like and joyous" and he has achieved exactly that. Messore composed all the tunes and they are melodious even if their melodies are sometimes hard to remember.
In the opening Mariposa, guitar and flute work together in unison or in harmony, before the guitar plays a delicate solo. The flute adds a high-flying solo and the trumpet (flugelhorn?) a subdued solo. Here and on most other tracks, Ollie Howell staves off tweeness with his vigorous drumming. In the title-track, the trumpet and flute interweave in counterpoint.
In Wowge, Steve Waterman's solo sounds rather tentative but Dan Messore's guitar solo is assertive, slowing down into an unaccompanied pensive section. When Lee Goodall arrives on alto sax, the mood sharpens into jazz-rock. Goodall is a versatile player who deserves to be better known, although his CV already includes plenty of valuable experiences. Diga Me is a beboppish number with a Latin-American bridge. Flute and drums swap eights.
A Bit of Light is thoughtful and folky, with Goodall's fluent flute backed by Messore's guitar chords, with interpolations from Steve Waterman. Nights of Sober Solitude swings easily, with valuable solos from flute and muted trumpet, which both share fours with Howell's drums. The modal Shortcomings is said to bear the influence of Wayne Shorter. Goodall again shows his dexterity and invention on the alto sax.
The closing Missing is slow and pensive, with trumpet and alto again intertwining against a background of moderate guitar chords. This whole CD makes a refreshing change from those albums where unsubtle musicians try to make an impression by assaulting your ears. Dan Messore's group does good by stealth.