Mark Nightingale and Alistair White- The Sound of Jay and Kai
(Woodville WVCD 142. CD Review by Frank Griffith)
The two -trombone with three rhythm format, in which trombonists JJ Johnson (Jay) and Kai Winding made several albums in the period 1954-1969, is one that is not often heard these days, so all credit to trombonists Mark Nightingale and Alistair White for exploiting this combination, with a crack trio: fleet-fingered yet varied piano stylist, Graham Harvey, the ever-reliable and melodic Alec Dankworth on bass. and ubiquitous drummer Clark Tracey. The listener hearing his driving beat realizes quickly that we are in good hands.
This equally matched “bonesome” is hardly lonesome for excitement and verve as both trombone men possess prodigious techniques coupled with fully rounded and emotive sounds that lift the music well off the paper that it was written on. I must confess to having the occasional difficulty telling them apart initially, although one does detect a grittier tonal quality and somewhat more of a swagger in Nightingale’s solos compared to White’s winsome “sparklularity” and vertically swinging melodic approach. Furthermore, this recording was done in the excellent acoustic of the Norden Farm Centre for the Arts in Maidenhead. What an intelligent move that was as the refreshingly open and live quality that results most likely would have been difficult to establish in a studio setting.
Each of the twelve tracks is equally brilliant in its own way, and the sheer variety of material on offer here deserves praise. Originals by JJ Johnson, Mark Nightingale and the late, Allan Ganley, along with chestnuts from the pens of the likes of Porter, Rodgers, Kern, Noble and Coward. The Great ‘Britamerican’ Songbook if you like. Nightingale’s slow-paced and understated treatment of Cherokee provides an excellent platform for the lyrical bass-work of Dankworth. Similarly, his Blues On The House with its vocalised mutings and interplay amongst the troops coupled with Harvey’s groovy solo left this houseguest fully satisfied.
Jay and Kai indeed, and M and A celebrate this legacy, circa 1958 or so, to the letter(s). Another fine offering from Alan Barnes’ exemplary Woodville label, keeping this vital music alive.