Jazz (November 2018)

hfnalbum.pngSoft Machine
Hidden Details
Dyad Records DY029

Soft Machine went through many incarnations between their inception in 1966 and a last gig at Ronnie Scott's in '84, by which time all the original members had long since left. The current quartet, known until 2015 as Soft Machine Legacy, includes three who'd been members of the band in the '70s. Drummer John Marshall replaced Robert Wyatt in 1971, bassist Roy Babbington joined in 1973 and guitarist John Etheridge in '76. But reeds and keyboards player Theo Travis came into the Legacy project after the death of Elton Dean in 2006. Most pieces here are new, with some great playing, but there are vibrant reworkings of 'The Man Who Waved At Trains' and 'Out Bloody Rageous'. A milestone. SH


Bansangu Orchestra
Bansangu Orchestra
Pathway Records PBCD0121

This strikingly different big band was formed by UK saxophonist Paul Booth, with Giorgio Serci and Kevin Robinson, in 2014. Booth's credits include a long association with Steve Winwood, and in fact this album was recorded in Winwood's studio in 2016. The name comes from Airto's attempt to say 'band sounds good', and this band plays original compositions and arrangements that showcase musical influences from around the globe. It's a stellar lineup with Jason Yarde, Shanti Paul Jayasinha, Ryan Quigley and Rod Youngs in the ranks, and with guest spots for Jonathan Mayer on sitar and Seckou Keita on kora, not to mention Oli Rockberger. Eclectic and enjoyable. SH


Tony Kofi and The Organisation
Point Blank
The Last Music Company LMCD209

Here's a collaboration that sounds as if it was always meant to be, as leading UK saxophonist Tony Kofi teams up with a sophisticated yet fiercely grooving organ trio. He plays baritone throughout, agile, sinuous and effortlessly commanding as the group expertly negotiates such challenging and unhackneyed post-bop themes as Pepper Adams' 'Bossallegro' and Woody Shaw's 'Moontrane'. At the keys and the pedals is Pete Whittaker, Hammond hero of many other organ projects including the Nigel Price Trio. He's abetted here by guitarist Simon Fernsby, with big-band maestro Peter Cater ever-present on drums and lifting the group to new heights. SH


New York All-Stars
Burnin' In London
Ubuntu Music UBU0012

Ubuntu boss Martin Hummel, a 'huge fan' of the American saxophonist Eric Alexander, finally captured him live at Pizza Express in Nov '17. Overshadowed on the cover but not on the record is octogenarian pianist Harold Mabern, for whom the 2000s brought a resurgence of recording, and a fan base in Japan. As a jazz educator, Mabern was one of Alexander's teachers and the two have made more than 20 albums together. Here the evergreen 'Almost Like Being In Love' is a launchpad for a blistering straight-ahead workout and even 'Summertime' becomes a high-speed vehicle for Alexander, but he's engagingly lyrical on Styne's 'It's Magic'. SH