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Jim Mullen: Somewhere in the Hills (2002)

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Jim Mullen has a storied history. Born 1945 in Glasgow, Scotland, he played guitar and bass in the late '60s and '70s with Pete Brown, Brian Auger, Vinegar Joe and Kokomo, among others. Mullen formed Morrissey Mullen with saxophonist Dick Morrissey on sax around 1975, enjoying a 15-year partnership and becoming one of the top jazz-funk club bands of the '80s. Has been involved in solo projects since the '90s.

Somewhere In The Hills is the fourth album by Mullen's quartet, and that shows through their tightness of their playing. You can hear each individual in the band is well aware of the others and knows just when to stop, start and fade. The opening (title) track sees Mullen and pianist Gareth Williams playing a mid-paced toe-tapping tune where Mullen's guitar sings, not plays. The sleeve notes that accompany this album state that all these tracks are songs, because Mullen's guitar playing has a vocal intimacy. Yeah, sure. No, they really do! On the slow ballads like “The Two Lonely People” and Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" you'd swear his instrument was vocalising.

My favourite track is the super fast-paced “Medication”—every member of the band excels on this one—and do check out the slower but still quick “Without a Song,” where the other members of the group get to do solos.

Mullen's jazz-funk material from the '80s was enjoyable, but I have to admit that this album is good jazz—hardly surprising when you consider the years this man has been playing.

Other albums by Mullen's quartet include We Go Back, Animation, and Jim Mullen Burns.

Visit HEP Jazz on the web.

Track Listing: 1. Somewhere in the Hills 2. The Two Lonely People 3. Lush Life 4. tender is the Night 5. Without a Song 6. Lucky to be me 7. You're everything 8. Smile 9. The night we called it a day 10. Medication 11. The Craw killed the Pussey O

Personnel: Jim Mullen - Guitar Gareth Williams - Piano Mick Hutton - Bass Gary Husband - Drums

Record Label: Hep Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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