Jazz, June 2022

hfnalbum.pngOmar + QCBA
Live At Last
Ubuntu Music UBU0100; LP: UBU0100LP

Not just a show but a celebration. When they took to the stage at the Jazz Cafe in May last year, these musicians hadn't performed together for a live audience in 15 months. QCBA, led by trumpeter Quentin Collins and saxophonist Brandon Allen, powered by the Hammond keys and bass pedals of Ross Stanley and propelled by the drums of James Maddren, had been performing with UK soul legend Omar for more than a decade before lockdown. Now they could steam through 'Essensual' and 'Syleste', both in Omar's 2001 album Best By Far, before working out on his early hit, 'There's Nothing Like This'. If you love jazz funk, organ grooves, wild sax solos and a good-time live experience, this is for you. SH


Walter Smith III
In Common III
Whirlwind Recordings WR4783; LP: WR4783LP

Following In Common and In Common II, here's the third in a loosely-related series led and produced by Smith and his long-term collaborator, the distinctive and never-predictable guitarist Matthew Stevens, once again with a new lineup. The spread of styles and generations is wider than ever as elder-statesman bassist Dave Holland and long-time leading drummer Terri Lyne Carrington are joined by free jazz pianist Kris Davis. Most of the pieces launch into unexpected rhythms and sounds, and succeed, above all, thanks to the deep musicianship, warmth and erudition of Smith, whose wise and mellow sax somehow pulls all the threads together. SH


Stan Tracey Trio
The 1959 Sessions
Resteamed Records RSJ116

In May 1959, one year before the start of his adventures as resident pianist at Ronnie Scott's club and several before his 'Under Milk Wood' suite, Tracey recorded Little Klunk with Kenny Napper on bass and Phil Seamen on drums. A couple of weeks later he followed up with two more sessions at Decca, one with the same trio and the other with Tony Crombie replacing Seamen, but these tracks remained unissued. Now you can hear them at last, thanks to Clark Tracey's Resteamed label. In his liner notes, Alyn Shipton picks Tracey's quicksilver, urgently-swinging original 'Pitter Patter Panic' as a highlight, and that one track is enough to make this a must-hear. SH


Bob James Trio
Feel Like Making Live!
Evosound EVSA834M; LPs: EVLP033BL, EVLP033OR; SACD: EVSA852S; MQA-CD + Blu-ray: EVSA933MB

As the title implies, this sees the erstwhile leading creator of the smooth jazz genre reprising his cover of a Roberta Flack hit, along with other successes from his long career. And as with Espresso (2018), the Hong Kong-based Evosound label offers multiple release formats, here ranging from LP (in a choice of orange or black vinyl) to Blu-ray. But this time you just hear the trio playing 'live in the studio', with no orchestral-synth overdubs. A stripped-down approach, and none the worse for that, because you can really appreciate James's all-embracing keyboard mastery, with audiophile sound to bask in. SH