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



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OLLIE HOWELL

Sutures and Stitches

WHIRLWIND RECORDINGS WR4636

 

 

1. Later On

2. Beyond

3. Drum Intro

4. So Close, So Far

5. Angry Skies

6. Trumpet Intro

7. 19th Day

8. A World Apart

9. Bass Intro

10 . For Anya

11. They

12. Sax Intro

13. Two Sides

14. Dear Old Stockholm

15. Piano Intro

16. A Hollow Victory

Ollie Howell (drums), Max Luthert (double-bass), Matt Robinson (piano), Duncan Eagles (tenor sax), Mark Perry (trumpet)

All compositions by Ollie Howell except Dear Old Stockholm (traditional, arranged by Ollie Howell)

recorded: at Clown’s Pocket Studios, London, UK on 17-19 December 2012 [72:22]

 

 

It is always inspirational when you hear of people who are able to turn bad experiences to their own advantage and forge something positive and lasting out of them. That has been the case for drummer Ollie Howell who in 2009 in his 20s was diagnosed with a brain malformation and for which he has subsequently undergone several bouts of neurosurgery, the latest only in April 2012. The resulting sutures and stitches that have given the album its title are constant reminders of this and have strengthened his resolve to overcome all the negative sides and to create a lasting legacy of great music. In fact he writes in the liner notes of this, his debut album, that most of the compositions would not have been written (some even in his hospital bed) had it not been for the surgery. When you hear the disc, which was only released in September, you will be literally blown away by the firm and confident approach to jazz that this young up and coming drummer exhibits and marvel at the level of performance he and his well chosen band perform at. This is one of the most accomplished and impressive debut albums I have ever heard and every tune is a perfect entity that is hugely satisfying. I was fortunate to attend our local jazz club early in October where Ollie and his quintet kicked of their UK tour and during which the normal atmosphere of a jazz club, where the chatter of the audience together with the clink of glasses is part of the experience, was often put on hold and the only sounds emanated from the musicians as the audience was held spellbound by the music.

It’s of no surprise that Ollie’s mentor and one of jazz history’s greats, Quincy Jones said of him “An unbelievable drummer. So creative I couldn’t believe it.” Further friendship and advice comes from one of jazz’s greatest ever drummers Jimmy Cobb. All these positive influences have had their effect and the music on this disc belies the fact that this is a musician at the very beginning of his career but clearly on this showing the future should be truly bright. The thing that continues to impress is that each and every track on the disc is beautifully constructed and there is neither a note too few or too many but just that wonderful feeling of total satisfaction at the end of each piece. The other remarkable thing is that each musician gets their moment to shine as an integral part of the construction so that there is a really organic feel to each tune. It isn’t possible to pick out any one of them since they are all equally good, something that is rare in my experience. Each member of this young band are marvellous examples of the healthy state that jazz in Britain is in at least in terms of musicians and is a star in their own right. Duncan Eagles’ soaring sax is gorgeously warm, Mark Perry’s trumpet is incisive and beautifully measured, Matt Robinson on piano sounds as though he has been playing for many years so prodigious is his technique and Max Luthert’s wonderfully fat sounding bass completes the line-up all underpinned by Ollie himself whose drumming is so inventive and never boring or samey which is something some drummers can be accused of. There is no sitting in a groove and just hitting drums and cymbals for Ollie since every note is calculated to be telling.

All lovers of modern jazz at its very best should not hesitate for a single moment to acquire this disc and share in the beginning of what promises to be a notably fine career for Ollie Howell.

Steve Arloff



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