7

Mark Lockheart: Ellington in Anticipation

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Mark Lockheart: Ellington  in Anticipation Ellington in Anticipation isn't Mark Lockheart's first album to employ an expanded lineup; the Polar Bear/Blue Touch Paper saxophonist collaborated with Germany's WDR Big Band on 2010's Days Like These (Fuzzy Moon) and first cut his teeth in Loose Tubes, the now-legendary large UK collective of then-up-and-comers that included pianist Django Bates, saxophonist Iain Ballamy and guitarist John Parricelli, amongst other notables. But Ellington in Anticipation—whose septet's complexion is defined by the incorporation of violin alongside a three-horn frontline—is Lockheart's first to pay tribute to another composer, through imaginative rearrangements of music by and/or associated with Duke Ellington, along with original material clearly inspired by the great pianist/composer.

In that respect, Ellington in Anticipation is not unlike trumpeter Dave Douglas' string of tributes including trumpeter Booker Little on In Our Lifetime (Arabesque, 1995) and saxophonist Wayne Shorter with Stargazer (Arabesque, 1996), but there the comparison ends. Lockheart's own voice, approach, and acumen as both a performer and composer have grown significantly since the Loose Tubes years on albums including Moving Air (Basho, 2005) and In Deep (Edition, 2006).

Lockheart's group clearly appreciates the fine balance between reverent respect and respectful irreverence in tackling near-iconic material like "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." Re-harmonized, to be sure, Lockheart's arrangement also turns the tune into ambling ¾-time, comfortably moving from near-chamber ambiance—its memorable melody passed¸ tag team-like, from the rich blend of Lockheart, reed multi-instrumentalist James Allsopp (here solely on clarinet) and saxophonist/flautist Finn Peters to violinist Emma Smith in pizzicato unison with Liam Noble's prepared piano—to a more open solo section that, in addition to featuring Lockheart, gives bassist/Polar Bear cohort Tom Herbert an early opportunity to shine. It does, indeed, swing, but in a different, more modernistic fashion.

Lockheart's "My Caravan" even more significantly re-imagines Juan Tizol's often-covered "Caravan," its familiar theme only emerging in the final minute of a tune slowly building from drummer/Polar Bear partner Sebastian Rochford's hand-played foundation, over which Noble and the horns improvise freely, gradually coalescing around Lockheart's complex contrapuntal writing for further impressive soloing, all bolstered by Noble's blocky accompaniment.

A brooding tone poem, "Come Sunday" starts as a trio with Lockheart, Herbert, and Rochford, whose dark cymbal washes and mallet-driven toms are more about texture than time. Time does, however, ultimately emerge, as Rochford's gentle rim shot drives a slowly building second section where saxophones, clarinet and flute orbit thematically around each other as Noble's simple figure and Herbert's deep arco provide yet another foundation.

Whether rendering Billy Strayhorn's signature "Take the A Train" more episodic and expansive, or honing in with needle-like precision on the softly driven yet visceral and gradually intensifying take on Ellington's "Creole Love Call," Ellington in Anticipation proves that there's still plenty of life in material now dating back as much as 80 years. Lockheart and his septet deliver a thoroughly contemporary tribute that focuses the spotlight on a composer whose historical importance is never questioned, but whose music is often considered dated by younger generations. With Ellington in Anticipation, the Duke has rarely sounded so young...or relevant.


Track Listing: It Don't Mean a Think (If It Ain't Got That Swing); My Caravan; Come Sunday; Jungle Lady; Take the A Train; Azure; Uptown; Creole Call Love; Beautiful Man; Mood Indigo; Indian Summer.

Personnel: Mark Lockheart: tenor saxophone; Finn Peters: alto saxophone and flute; James Allsopp: clarinets; Emma Smith: violin; Liam Noble: piano; Tom Herbert: bass; Sebastian Rochford: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Subtone Records (uk) | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "The Golden Measure" CD/LP/Track Review The Golden Measure
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 25, 2016
Read "Endemic Ensemble: Tangled" CD/LP/Track Review Endemic Ensemble: Tangled
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "In Case Of Fire" CD/LP/Track Review In Case Of Fire
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 17, 2016
Read "Shawn Maxwell's New Tomorrow" CD/LP/Track Review Shawn Maxwell's New Tomorrow
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Penumbra" CD/LP/Track Review Penumbra
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 10, 2017
Read "Being Playing" CD/LP/Track Review Being Playing
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: April 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!