John Bisset and Alex Ward are both renowned free improvisers. Bisset organised the annual Relay improvisation festival, set up the 2-13 club and led the London Electric Guitar Orchestra. Ward, who also plays clarinet, famously appeared in one of Derek Bailey's Company Weeks when he was only 14. All of which makes Pocket even more remarkable than it would otherwise have been.
The band and the album are both stripped back to the essentials, and have a classic quality about them. They are quite literally timeless. Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and drums produce music that could be from any time in the past half century. Yet it is not revivalist, revisionist, ironic or post-modern. It is honest, sincere and heartfelt. The album consists of twelve short tracks (the longest is 3:43, the shortest 1:49) and runs for just over 36 minutes; it feels as if this should be on vinyl, six tracks per side. Each track is catchily melodic and conventionally structured. After a few listens, you will be humming along and tapping your toes. Yet, so far, I have not become saturated or bored by this music. It has enough sublety and variation to withstand repeated listening and slowly reveal new pleasures.
I wonder how Pocket can follow this up and develop its strengths, so perfectly formed is this album. Anyway, that is for the future. For now, enjoy this little gem.
Track Listing: Pink; Stretch Marks; Liverpool; Wellingtons; Horatio; WC68; Catch (hit and run); Wily Coyote; Evens; Snap; Tumba; Lost
Personnel: John Bisset, guitar; Alex Ward, guitar; Christopher Evans, bass; Oliv J. Picard, drums
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.