CD review

Patrick Naylor – ‘Winter Dream’

Patrick Naylor – Winter Dream
(BeeBoss Records – BBCD2030. Review by Adrian Pallant)

There’s something reassuringly inviting about the music of guitarist Patrick Naylor – a seasoned player and composer in the fields of TV, film, radio and advertising, also known for his session work and as an educator.

His first solo album in a decade, 2015’s Days of Blue, delivered original music in a pleasing array of jazz and other styles. Now, latest release Winter Dream suggests a greater cohesion of ideas with a largely unchanged quintet – saxophonist Ian East, pianist David Beebee, bassist Jakub Cywinski and drummer Milo Fell – plus appearances from saxophonist Julian Costello. Here are nine numbers which possess richness in melody and ensemble articulation – all part of an incisively crafted sound. As leader, Naylor’s playing is authoritative and varied, but always remains integral to the overall sound – and that’s the key, rather than falling to predictable, upfront showboating.

Easy-going Where are my Glasses?, rhythmically drifting between bars of three and five, belies the middle-aged frustration vented in its title with a smooth, memorable theme and the aerial improv of Ian East’s sax. Shady Do I Know You? points to Naylor’s soundtracking experience, his bluesy, swooning guitar licks beautifully measured across David Beebee’s inflected electric piano grooves as they switch from mellow tone to subtle Santana-like fuzz. Both the intricacy and solidity of Milo Fell‘s percussion is apparent here, too.

Inspired by “the bizarre spectacle of Tory leadership candidates vying to outdo each other in admitting to drug-taking in 2019”, the album’s biggest rock-out, Tory Drug Off, becomes a swirling maelstrom; and if ever there was a vehicle for Julian Costello’s distinctive spiralling soprano – in hypnotic, raga-like contest with Naylor’s fretboard rapidity – this it. The guest saxophonist also adds floaty colour to Satori, a buoyant, free-spirited dedication to a guitar student of Naylor’s who passed away at a young age. Its melodic signature could easily invite a vocal line. That lyricism can also be found in Winter Dream, an elegantly waltzing ballad with space for tranquil extemporisations; and Winter Space’s ambient, reverse-loop haze suggests a frosty aurora, enhanced by Naylor’s sensitive, sustained phrases and Beebee’s softly chiming chords.

Almost Through intimates a wistful, prog-like mystery through its intertwined guitar and sax lines, Naylor’s full, lofty tone reminiscent of Mark Knopfler. David Beebee’s B for Blues, displaying an “affection for ‘60s Blue Note”, is indeed the album’s most direct expression of jazz, the pianist’s solos responding to the swing of Cywinski and Fell, while East’s sax rolls with abandon. Finally, recalling an old London address of Naylor’s, Rugby Street is a peppy, sax-led, theme-tune promenade of skittering guitar and blithe piano.

As we escape the weightier gloom of this particular meteorological season, Patrick Naylor‘s Winter Dream provides a reminder of the certainty of darkness to light, and the seasons’ inevitable cycle towards brighter days, with this amiable, enjoyable set. Claire Astruc’s hallucinatory cover art perhaps dissuades overindulgence in Stargazy pie before slumber!

Winter Dream is released on BeeBoss Records on 5 March 2021.
Patrick Naylor at Bandcamp.

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