Veryan Weston/John Edwards/Mark Sanders: Gateway to Vienna (2002)

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Veryan Weston/John Edwards/Mark Sanders: Gateway to Vienna
This double CD pairs a studio recording from December 2003 (the Gateway part) with a May 2002 concert recording of two long improvisations (the Vienna part). When this trio released their previous Emanem CD Mercury Concert in 1999, Veryan Weston was described as "underrated and John Edwards and Mark Sanders were described as "younger, unacclaimed players who are regulars on the London improv circuit. In the intervening years, Edwards and Sanders have advanced in acclaim, to the point where they are now both much in demand, together or separately, and are the first choice bassist and drummer of many players, including Evan Parker, Spring Heel Jack, and Tony Bevan, as well as Veryan Weston.

Their frequent associations with each other—including their own duo CD, Nisus Duets—mean that they know each other inside-out and that they spark off each other, endlessly throwing out ideas, most of which are picked up and developed. (Indeed, so seemingly inseparable have the two become that a recent Wire review of Mark Sanders' Swallow Chase solo CD credited it to the composite "Mark Edwards. )

However, Veryan Weston is still cruelly underrated. (The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD doesn't even give him an entry, which says more about Cook and Morton than Weston, I think. Wake up, guys!) But he continues to produce music that is beautiful, thought-provoking, stimulating, and challenging—usually all at the same time. The reasons for his being underrated are good ones, in my book; he is eclectic, inquisitive, and exploratory rather than ploughing a straight furrow; he is a team player, a collaborator (he works a lot in duos); he might steal the show but he never hogs the limelight.

Considering Edwards and Sanders separately from Weston does overlook the most important aspect of this album; they are a great threesome. They play with the knowledge of and confidence in each other that good football teams develop over time. They are not tentative or hesitant; they seem to know what the others will do next because, in a sense, they do. To see or hear it in action is sure to bring a smile to one's face.

Sometimes—as on "Vienna One —the threesome is a lot closer than you might expect to being a jazz trio, except there is no hierarchy, no sense of lead plus support, no background and foreground, just three equals. Weston is not obviously influenced by any jazz antecedents; he has absorbed and assimilated his influences, making them his own. However, much of his vocabulary and syntax is clearly rooted in jazz piano. At other times—say on "Gateway Two or other of the studio tracks—they are less jazzy, far more clearly rooted in improvised music, breaking up the rhythm, exchanging short staccato phrases. And while it may be less jazzy it is no less exciting to listen to.

There is a treasure chest of fine music here, and it will take a lot more listening to give a considered judgment. I would recommend you to join in with that enjoyable venture.

Track Listing: Gateway One; Gateway Two; Gateway Three; Gateway Four; Gateway Five; Gateway Six; Vienna One; Vienna Two.

Personnel: Veryan Weston, piano; John Edwards, double bass; Mark Sanders, percussion.

Record Label: Emanem

Style: Modern Jazz


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