CD Review: Mark Donlon – Kashasha

Mark Donlon Kashasha
(Fuzzy Moon FUZ007. CD review by Chris Parker)

Pianist Mark Donlon‘s previous album was a solo-piano CD, Ashia (F-IRE, 2007), described at the time as ‘limpid, elegant, thoughtful and gently mellifluous … a rich, atmospheric album designed for slow savouring’, but on this one he is joined by bassist Mick Hutton, drummer Gene Calderazzo and occasionally by saxophonist Julian Siegel.

The above adjectives all still apply to Donlon’s playing, though as the opening (title) track incorporates a vigorous latin passage (Donlon is a latin music specialist, being the pianist in Roberto Pla’s band), and Calderazzo in particular brings all his crackling energy to the proceedings, there is more variety, in both tone and tempo, on this album than was evident on its predecessor (the centrepiece of which was a three-piece epitaph for Michael Brecker).

On both the trio and quartet tracks, Donlon’s rock-solid technique (he is one of the UK’s most celebrated teachers and runs the CUK big band) is placed at the service of a pleasing variety of original compositions (plus Kenny Wheeler’s ‘The Jigsaw’), but a special highlight of Kashasha is his visit to one of the staples of his live performances, the Young/Washington classic ‘My Foolish Heart’, which (appropriately for a self-admonishing song along the lines of Cole Porter’s ‘Get Out of Town’) receives a suitably affecting, tender treatment, laced with a hint of determination.

Such subtlety and intelligence are the hallmarks of this carefully judged and finely balanced album, and with Siegel addressing his solos with all his customary sophisticated swagger and Hutton also eloquent in his numerous solo contributions, this is a rich and absorbing set, and a fine addition to an increasingly impressive series of CDs from Fuzzy Moon.

Kashasha is available from Proper Music

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