On gently folkloric songs like "Married the Messenger" and the lilting, Celtic-tinged "The Dress," Stott's delivery evokes latter-day Joni Mitchell. She takes a soulful, Sade-like approach on "Ameltie" and brings lyrical, spoken-word gravitas to Leighton's arrangement of the Keats poem "A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever." Drummer David Lyttle
bassist Michael Janisch
and Leighton's elastic rhythms drive up-beat tracks like "Precious Life" and "Whin Bush." The latter features a fine solo from guitarist Mark McKnight, though for the most part his presence is subdued. Multi-reeds player Michael Buckley enjoys greater protagonism, and whether on tenor or alto saxophone or flute he makes a lasting impression.
At around 35 minutes this is a rather short offering by today's standards. A few more solos by Leighton and McKnight wouldn't have gone amiss but this is a minor quibble, especially considering that Leighton's focus is clearly on the compositions rather than the individuals. An impressive debut nonetheless.
Lloyd Ryan Big Band Drivin' Force
A well-known British session musician since the 1960s, drummer and big band leader Lloyd Ryan
can count former Genesis drummer Phil Collins among his pupils. Surprisingly, Drivin' Force
marks his big band recording debutand the collection of up-tempo jazz standards and pop tunes brings together some of the UK's finest session players on what was conceived as a one-off project.
Most of the tracks were recorded in one takeafter minimal rehearsaland there was no overdubbing on these 12 selections. Pop classics like Belfast singer Van Morrison
's "Moondance" and Lennon and McCartney's "Norwegian Wood" rub shoulders with standards such as Billy Taylor
's "I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel To Be Free," a thumping version of keyboardist Joe Zawinul
's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" and popular tunes such as Neil Hefti's "Cute."
Highlights include Sammy Nestico's "Funtime," Hefti's "Cute," which stands up well to the Count Basie
Orchestra version from 1956, Sammy Nestico's short and punchy "Ya Gotta Try" and Bill Potts "Big Swing Face." The arrangements are tight and the playing is uniformly strong. Unfortunately, the soloists are not named for each track, which seems like an oversight. Recommended for fans of old-style, big band swing.
David Lyttle Interlude
Drummer David Lyttle's second album as leader on his own label is a thoroughly urbane affair, mixing elements of jazz, neo-soul, hip-hop and rap in an upbeat concoction whose easy grooves have the feel of a soundtrack for a carefree summer. It's something of a family affair, with Lyttle's mother Anne providing vocals on the miniature "Seek" and sister Rhea on the delightful neo-soul of "I Don't Mind" and "Questions," the latter of which features saxophonist Michael Buckley and trumpeter Linley Hamilton in a lovely horn arrangement.
There's heavyweight support from legendary session-bassist Pino Palladino and rapper/saxophonist Soweto Kinch
on the catchy soul-rap number "Uncertain Steps." Pianist Jason Rebello
guests on "Optimistic," another radio-friendly slice of new soul/rap featuring Homecut. In addition to writing all the music and drumming, Lyttle doubles on keyboards and backing vocals on the sultry soul number "Angel" and handles piano, organ and celloon which he's classically trainedon "Seek," not to mention bass guitar on the funky title track.
There's little in the way of soloing on this groove-centric recording, which stands as easily the most commercially viable release on Lyttle's Lyte records label and a highly enjoyable one at that.
Nigel Mooney The Bohemian Mooney
There may have been times in the eight years between jazz and blues singer/guitarist Nigel Mooney's debut recording All My Love's In Vain
(Rubyworks, 2005) and The Bohemian Mooney
when fans wondered if he'd ever record again. This album has been something of a slow burner, taking three years to craft, but the wait has been worth it. With a first rate group backing him, Mooney is in great form on these dozen tracks, blending jazz, blues and R&B in his inimitable, soulful style.
As both vocalist and guitarist, Mooney draws inspiration chiefly from the 1950s Chicago blues and there' more than a hint of guitarist/singer B.B. King
's influence on originals "I Ain't Ready" and the ska-inflected "Unlucky in Love." Mooney's hybrid jazz-blues guitar style shines on the instrumentals "The Bohemian Mooney" and "Bohemian Moondance"fluid, soulful and satisfying. There's a touch of the Memphis Horns throughout, with saxophonist Michael Buckley's arrangements for trumpeter Ronan Dooney and trombonist Paul Frost lending real pizzazz.