(Ubuntu Music UBU0034. CD Review by Peter Jones)
There is a calm, muscular authority in the playing of tenor saxophonist Paul Booth that makes it obvious why he is the reedsman of choice for the likes of Steve Winwood, Steely Dan and Rod Stewart. Whilst living the dream on the road in America, Italy, Morocco, New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere with these and other members of the rock nobility, he has found time to knock out some of the lovely jazz pieces that appear on this album. The only non-original is Peter Gabriel’s Don’t Give Up, a long-time live favourite of Booth’s.
Accompanied by Steve Hamilton on piano, Dave Whitford on bass and Andrew Bain on drums, he recorded Travel Sketches in a single afternoon at the swanky new Eastside Jazz Club in Birmingham. [Note to musicians: on this evidence, the room seems to create the perfect balance of clarity and warmth] The band glides serenely through the sweet, melodic waltz Seattle Fall, and the delicate, elusive Seminole Serenade, before hitting their bebop stride with Medina Scuffle, a tune Booth wrote to express the intensity of a Moroccan medina and the influence of the local Gnawa music. But the dominant mood of the album is relaxed and melodic.
Every so often, he returns to his home in Ramsgate, there to contemplate the hurly-burly of his life as a touring musician. No Place Like Home reflects the mixed feelings he surely experiences during these all too brief sojourns, aided by a fine, introspective bass solo from Dave Whitford.
Another favourite, for me, is the ballad Red Rocks, inspired by a Colorado mountain range whose peaks suggested to Paul Booth musical notes on a stave.
The quartet will be playing some UK live dates over the next few months: The Verdict, Brighton (6 September), Flute and Tankard, Cardiff (16 October), Eastside, Birmingham (24 October) and The Whiskey Jar, Manchester (2 December).
LINK: Paul Booth’s website