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Tony Kofi: Point Blank

Chris May By

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British saxophonist Tony Kofi has made a specialism of heritage projects. Among the best of them is the Monk Liberation Front, a band which Kofi co-founded with pianist Jonathan Gee in 2003 and which performs Thelonious Monk's music. The work of Cannonball Adderley is the focus of another venture. An early spin-off from the Front was the Tony Kofi Quartet's paradigm tweaking Plays Monk: All Is Know (Specific, 2004). The Adderley project has yet to be recorded. In late 2017, Kofi also put together the band which accompanied harpist Alina Bzhezhinska in a London concert headlined by Pharoah Sanders and dedicated to the legacy of John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane. The same band is featured on Bzhezhinska's sublime Inspiration (Ubuntu, 2018).

Kofi moves effortlessly between soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, and it is the baritone which he plays on Point Blank. The disc co-stars The Organisation, a guitar / organ / drums trio which specialises in soul jazz and funk, and with whom Kofi first performed in 2010. The ten-track album features jazz standards and lesser-known material written by Duke Pearson, Pepper Adams, Henry Mancini, McCoy Tyner, Lonnie Smith, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, Woody Shaw, Horace Silver and Jimmy Smith. "I don't think I set out to create a retro concept," says Kofi, "but because I grew up in the 1970s, the music of that era is deeply rooted within my musical ear."

The title Point Blank is inspired by John Boorman's 1967 movie of the same name, which starred Lee Marvin as a gangster engaged in a war of attrition with his former colleagues in a Mafia-like outfit called The Organization. The soundtrack for the film was written by Johnny Mandel, and Kofi rather missed a trick by not including something from Mandel's luscious songbook on the disc.

The music on the album is performed with elan and given a refreshing twist by the use of baritone rather than tenor saxophone, the default horn featured with most bands such as The Organisation. Further, despite the organ, the disc, particularly on the ballads, sometimes evokes Gerry Mulligan's keyboard-less (and guitar-less) quartet with Chet Baker—an added bonus. Point Blank does not go anywhere we have not gone before, but it is an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

Track Listing: Minor League; Bossallegro; Theme From Mr Lucky; Search For Peace; LS Blues; Cisco; Full House; Moontrane; Horace Silver; Ready And Able. .

Personnel: Tony Kofi: baritone saxophone; Pete Whittaker: organ; Pete Cater: drums; Simon Fernsby: guitar.

Title: Point Blank | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: The Last Music Company

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