11 DECEMBER 1993, Page 52


Nice work if you can get it

Martin Gayford

Secondly, Dan Barrett is to be welcomed especially because he is a trombonist of the very rarest and most cherishable kind the performers in the line of Jack Teagar- den, Dicky Wells and Vic Dickenson who bring out the nobility and eloquence of this ugly-duckling instrument. Third and most important point: this is a pearl of a session, containing not only agile and inventive trombone on every track but also the great drummer Jake Hanna on crisply ebullient form. Like many really good jazz record- ings, Jubilesta was made by a small compa- ny, and you may well have difficulty in finding it (as you may with any jazz album). This one is an import to boot — so I can only recommend that you try a specialist shop like Ray's, Mole or Honest Jon's in London or my local, Garon Records in Cambridge.

Dan Barrett turns up on another cheer- ing — indeed euphoric — CD from this year's crop, Thanks, by Marty Grosz & the Collectors Item Cats (J&M CD 502). When last January I wrote in The Spectator about Grosz there were no easily available CDs around. Since then this has come out and it's an admirable example of his springy guitar, breezy singing and antiquar- ian's choice of repertoire (most of the tunes included can scarcely have been per- formed since the attack on Pearl Harbor). The band enjoy themselves so much that you do too.

Obviously Barrett has been having a busy

time recently — although a trombonist since he is also present on The Bunk Project (Limelight 514 937-2). This is musical archaeology of a kind that makes Frosz look rather modernistic, dedicated as it is to recreating the kind of sound made by the very earliest jazz musicians of all men like the cornettist Bunk Johnson when they were disinterred from retire- ment in the 1940s, fitted with new false teeth and propelled into the recording stu- dio by youthful enthusiasts. The Bunk Pro- ject faithfully replicates the off-centre balance and moving sincerity of those ses- sions. Unexpectedly, the star of the album Is the celebrated amateur clarinettist Woody Allen, playing with all the reedy passion of a septuagenarian from New Orleans.

The young tenor saxophonist Harry Allen and guitarist Howard Alden are two of my favourite musicians, so I was not sur- prised that I'll Never be The Same by the Harry Allen Trio/Duo, featuring Alden (Mastermix CHECD 00106), was one of the most limber and swinging new albums of 1993. The duet version of 'Avalon' here suggests Allen is going to be a true master of the tenor. Alden — who always has a busy year, deservedly — also turned out another good duet album with the clarinet- tist Ken Peplowski (Concord Jazz CCD 1556) and a trio under his own name, A Good Likeness (Concord Jazz CCD 4544), which is his finest album to date as a soloist. Like Allen, he keeps on getting bet- ter.

The young trumpeter Roy Hargrove (b. 1970) is the most outstanding of the teeny beboppers. And Of Kindred Souls (Novus 01241 63154) is the best thing he has done so far. It's a live recording, which probably explains why the level of excite- ment and engagement is higher than before — still not as wild and free as I've heard him play, but it's getting there. Next year, perhaps. In the piano department, on the other hand, maturity has scored more heavily than youth. Ellis Larkins (b. 1923) is one of the most reclusive figures in jazz, a man so quiet that he prefers to eschew verbal com- munication for a system of expressive ges- tures. I once met him as he came offstage after playing with Dizzy Gillespie. How had he found it? Frantic ear-covering move- ments were followed by three fiercely whis- pered words: 'Very noisy, man'. There are points on Ellis Larkins at Maybeck (Con- cord Jazz CCD 4533) where the pianist's breathing is almost as loud as the notes. But any feeling of fragility is offset by his irresistible elfin swing. After a moment or two your foot starts tapping and you float away with Larkins.

I extolled the infinitely beefier playing of Ray Bryant recently in these pages, so I will just issue a reminder that the two volumes of his 60th birthday celebration, Through the Years (EMARCY 512 933 and 512 764) contain glorious bluesy, beboppy playing.