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Chris Biscoe Profiles Quartet: Live At Campus West

Bruce Lindsay By

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British multi-instrumentalist Chris Biscoe began playing the alto saxophone in 1963, just one year before the death of Eric Dolphy. On Live At Campus West Biscoe and his Profiles Quartet pay tribute to Dolphy's legacy with new arrangements of tunes associated with Dolphy as a composer and player, drawing on music from the American's brief but stellar career and once again placing it firmly center-stage.

Live At Campus West was recorded on January 30th 2011 and features four of Dolphy's compositions alongside Charles Mingus' "Fables Of Faubus" and "The Man Who Never Sleeps," Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy" and Biscoe's "Open Book." Partnering Biscoe in the Profiles Quartet front line is fellow reeds player Tony Kofi. The pair both double on instruments—Biscoe on alto sax and the relatively unusual alto flute, Kofi on alto and tenor saxophones—and make excellent use of the different combinations on offer.

Biscoe and Kofi may grab the lion's share of the spotlight, but their success is due in no small part to bassist Larry Bartley and drummer Stu Butterfield's sterling rhythm section playing. The four men thrive on each other's energy, respecting the compositions while investing them with terrific verve and enthusiasm. The result is a fiery display of musical skill, dynamics and almost telepathic understanding between the players. There are sensitive moments too, most notably Biscoe's unaccompanied alto sax on "Something Sweet, Something Tender" and the interplay between Biscoe and Kofi on "The Man Who Never Sleeps."

Although the excellent sound of this recording readily brings to mind images of smoky jazz cellars, the Campus West referred to in the album's title is not a glamorous Californian nitespot from the glory days of Dolphy, Mingus, Monk and the rest. It's in the marginally less glamorous Welwyn Garden City, a few miles north of London—but on the evidence of Live At Campus West it was for at least a few hours one January night a place where the spirit of those great players one again burned bright.

Track Listing: Les; Epistrophy; Fable Of Faubus; Open Book; The Man Who Never Sleeps; Something Sweet, Something Tender; Out To Lunch; Potsa Lotsa.

Personnel: Chris Biscoe: alto saxophone, alto clarinet; Toni Kofi: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Larry Bartley: double bass; Stu Butterfield: drums.

Title: Live At Campus West | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Trio Records


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