If what you like is a very high quality straight-ahead Blue Note style blowing session, look no further. Derek Nash has assembled an appealing mix of contrasting tunes, he has a powerfully swinging rhythm section to work with, and the recording quality is very good throughout.
The liner notes tell the story: there was some spare time left after a session in Nash’s studio; the trio of Jan Lundgren on piano, Geoff Gascoyne on bass and Steve Brown on drums were “nicely warmed up”; out came Nash’s lead-sheets and down to business. It’s what it says on the cover: a friendly, highly musical and enjoyable album recorded as-live, a snapshot of where Nash had got to as a musician, well captured on one afternoon in February 2007.
Nash plays all four saxes on the album. His tenor playing on four of the nine numbers numbers on the CD is sweet-toned and fluent. I sense influences on the sound and vocabulary from players like Bobby Wellins and Spike Robinson. The playing is mostly stylish, measured, but I did enjoy his farmyard oinks at [2:03] on Neal Hefti’s Li’l Darling. The two tracks on soprano are masterpieces of beauty and line, and awesome control. On baritone Nash has attractive, immensely civilized low voice-high voice conversation with pianist Lundgren. In Polka Dots & Moonbeams I found myself saying: I can’t believe it’s not Mulligan. But it’s the one track on alto, Rodgers and Hart’s Falling With Love in 4/4, which has given me the most pleasure. Nash seems to take more risks, and I find I like that real grittiness of character, grunt and scratchiness in the voice.
It’s an enjoyable album, and Derek Nash is a phenomenon in British jazz. The rest of us in the human race just have to consider ourselves slackers. He is credited as having… co-executive-produced the album with Trudy Kerr, but that’s just the start. He also mixed, engineered, and mastered it himself. (I remember having some fun with this activity level in LondonJazz’s April Fool) . Not just the playing, but the mixing… and all the rest….are jobs VERY well done. Enjoy.