If Roy Budd has any kind of reputation at all outside of British shores, it could well be down to the fact that he provided the soundtrack for the seminal British gangster movie Get Carter. At the time he was the pianist/leader in a trio with bassist Jeff Clyne and drummer Chris Karan; the latter appears on the music collected here.
The programme, recorded between 1967 and 1970, consists of Budd leading small groups backed by strings arranged by Tony Hatch. In lesser hands their presence might serve to keep the jazz factor down to a minimum, but the fact of the matter is that Budd was a pianist of extraordinary dexterity and invention, as he proves on "On Green Dolphin Street," where his solo introduction is the work of a musician who, it seems, just can't wait to start improvising. In as good an example of tension and release as any, he embellishes the melody as a kind of preliminary to more full-blown exposition, the positive effect of which is aided in no small part by the sheer joy of life that Budd conveys.
The impression emerges of Budd as a kind of Hampton Hawes less steeped in the blues on Toots Thielemans' "Bluesette," where his fondness for fearsomely felicitous right-hand runs comes to the fore, just as it is on Budd's own perhaps innocuously titled "Girl From Southend On Sea," with a young Dave Holland occupying one of the dual bass spots.
Despite the contrary musical impulses of Budd's pianistic skills and Hatch's arrangements, the resulting music is always worthwhile, and not least because Budd comes out on top on nearly every occasion. When the music does veer dangerously close to the cocktail lounge, as it does on "It Only Goes To Show," it has such an air about it that Quentin Tarantino could well put it to use in his next movie.
The last two tracks were recorded in a pure trio setting, and Budd gives "It Might As Well Be Spring" a reading that would simply elude any pianist concerned with displaying technical fireworks alone.
If you've always had an aversion to strings, then the best part of this music will not alter that feeling, but you'll be missing out on the kind of musicianship which in short is the stuff of life.
Personnel: Roy Budd: piano, with Dave Holland: bass (1-7,15,16) Peter McGurk: bass (1-7); Jeff Clyne: bass (8); unknown:
bass (9-14); Chris Karan: drums (probably throughout); Vic Ash: flute (8); Ike Isaacs: guitar (8), plus horns and