John Warren: Following On (2010)
John Warren was fortunate in having the services of a cross-section of British jazz talent in the realization of Following On. Their talents and his writing and arranging meld nicely here, the overall feeling being that of friends coming together, with a view towards mutual cooperation.
There are, however, negative implications. There are times when it's hard to get behind the surface elegance and urbanity of the music. An effortlessness in Warren's work makes this inevitable, perhaps, but is often offset by the trenchancy of the soloists. "Fingerprints" is a case in point, with pianist Gwilym Simcock and tenor saxophonist Julian Siegel getting to grips with the material to make it their own.
Warren knows a thing or two about tonal color, evident on the aptly titled "A Warm Front," over which it could be imagined hearing the late Art Farmer blowing over. As it is, flugelhornist Gerard Presencer fills the role and, again, the music has a winning way about it, thanks to deft deployment of flautist Stan Sulzmann, highlighting the essentially impressionistic nature of the piece. Presencer extracts emotional nuances in the course of his solo, lending the music a singular identity, despite so much going on beneath the surface.
"Above The Fourteenth Range" is a companion piece, certainly with regard to the colors that come to the fore. Sulzmann solos on flute and, by dint of its scarcity in the music as a whole, his full, rounded sound exemplifies how anomalous the instrument can be in a jazz setting. That's not the case here, however, and the results catch the attention and hold it. Much the same can be said for Siegel, who happily shows little in the way of overt influence.
Despite the title, "I Couldn't Wait" has an unhurried air that thankfully doesn't descend into the merely perfunctory. Again, the elegance of Warren's arrangement stands out, even while alto saxophonist Christian Brewer proves that Charlie Parker's spirit lives on in some of his ascending runs and the knowing swagger of a man in convivial musical company and isn't shy about letting the world know.
Track Listing: Dreamlines; Oh, What?; A Warm Front; I Couldn't Wait; Fingerprints; Eronel; Above The Fourteenth Range; Cada Dia; Slipstone.
Personnel: Martin Shaw: trumpet, flugelhorn (1, 2, 4-9); Gerard Presencer: flugelhorn (3); Mark Nightingale: trombone; Christian Brewer: alto sax; Stan Sulzmann: flute, tenor sax; Julian Siegel: tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet; Gwilym Simcock: piano; Jim Hart: vibes; Phil Donkin: bass; James Maddren: drums; John Warren: compositions, arrangements.