Roger Beaujolais Quartet – Mind the Gap
(Stay Tuned Records ST009. CD Review by Chris Parker.)
‘Brazilian-influenced tunes, modern compositions as well as the usual influences from the days when swing and blues were essential ingredients in jazz’ is vibraphonist Roger Beaujolais’s description of the fare on this, his 18th studio album.
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The last category is perhaps the most reliable guide to his quartet’s overall approach: pianist Robin Aspland, bassist Simon Thorpe and drummer Winston Clifford are all notable for their adherence to these core jazz values, and with Beaujolais himself turning in his customary vigorously cascading but measured performance, this is a thoroughly enjoyable straightahead set of lively originals, interspersed with a couple of Wes Montgomery tunes, two Brazilian pieces (Milton Nascimento’s ‘Vera Cruz’ and the Martino/Brighetti bossa nova sung by Shirley Horn, ‘Estate’), Thad Jones’s glowing paean to parenthood, ‘A Child is Born’ and Chick Corea’s ‘Sea Journey’.
Beaujolais, as his 1990s work with Acid Jazz Records suggests, is a musician who has always favoured the directly communicative, unfussily peppy approach to music-making, and in the hard-swinging Aspland he has the perfect foil; with the tight, crisp drumming of Clifford and the propulsive Thorpe driving proceedings with exemplary vim throughout, this is a warm, uplifting album, fresh as a summer breeze.
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