Fourth Function is the vehicle of Dublin vocalist/composer, multi-instrumentalist, writer, broadcaster and educator, Eamonn Lenihan. Backed by one of Ireland's finest rhythm sections in the form of bassist Dave Redmond, Kevin Brady and pianist Phil Ware, this five-song EP is a showcase for Lenihan's thought-provoking lyric songwriting and hip arrangements. Failing well to occupy any specific genre, Happy Ever After straddles shoe-gazing pop and chamber jazzas if Earl Okin had smooched his way into the Modern Jazz Quartet.
The stellar rhythm section, which individually and collectively has collaborated with the likes of Larry Coryell, Bill Carrothers, Peter Bernstein, Norma Winstone, Seamus Blake and Ian Shaw, plays second fiddle to Lenihan throughout, serving best the interests of the music. Brady sticks to brushes for the most part, while Redmond's earthy bass shines forth beautifully from the spare arrangements. Ware, a consummate pianist, comps deftly throughout, with the only solo, a belter at that, from guest trumpeter Danny Healy.
"Falls and Ridges" is a clever slice of observational poetry, while the gently swinging "Happy Ever After," built on Redmond's ostinato and Ware's elegant chords, features fine playing from Healyof Galway's Black Magic Big Bandwith Lenihan in supportive mode on tenor saxophone. Piano and bass unite in a catchy motif that courses through "Waiting Here Forever," an intimate, diary-like confessional whose dark undertones contrast with the peppy groove of the music. An instrumental version, with softly cascading vibraphone, faint strands of acoustic guitar and flute, and bolder synthesized lines, points to where this music might have goneand could still goin a more expansive setting.
Sadly, in 2020, Phil Ware suffered an incapacitating stroke at the age of just 48, caused by a ruptured aneurism. The much-loved and admired English pianist and educator, who has been an integral figure on the Irish jazz scene in the past two decades, is facing a challenging road ahead. Happy Ever After is free to download. An official fund, The Fund for Phil, has been set up to support him in his rehabilitation.
Falls and Ridges; Happy Ever After (Radio Edit); Happy Ever After; Waiting Here Forever: Waiting Here Forever
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