From the perspective of an east of England jazz writer, it can seem like Manchester has the north east's jazz scene to itself, with Liverpool, its near neighbour, putting up little in the way of competition. It's not that Liverpool is un-musicalit is after all the home city of Gerry And The Pacemakersbut its impact on UK jazz isn't as emphatic as that of its musical rival. Enter The Weave, a Liverpool septet, with its rather wonderful self-titled debut album. It may not herald a new Liverpool Scene on its own, but it certainly establishes The Weave as a band of great promise.
The Weave is led by Martin Smith, who also wrote the tunes. The musicians' credits tend towards the rock and pop end of the musical spectrumSuper Furry Animals, Albert Lee and The Lightning Seeds among othersalthough Smith studied with Marvin Stamm and Ian Carr and guitarist Tony Ormesher has worked with Billy Cobham and Henry Lowther. Smith and Tony Peers both play trumpet and flugelhorn. The album credits don't indicate which horn parts are played by Smith and which are down to Peers, so it isn't possible to give credit where it's due: suffice to say that both players do a fine job.
Exactly what influences The Weave? It isn't absolutely clear, for this is an album that draws on almost as many styles as it has tunes. "Thou Spak A Mouthful" is irrepressibly cheery, Rob Stringer's thumping piano chords and Tilo Pirnbaum's contrastingly light drums underpinning the hard bop sound of Smith and Peers. Stuart Hardcastle's percussion, sitting rather low in the mix, adds a little Latin flavor. "Caresser Caress Her" is propelled by some tinkling percussion, with Smith and Peers' staccato twin-horn riff counterpointed by Stringer's romantic piano solo. "Hollie Dancer" is gently bop-ish. "Cold, Wet and Sockless"surely dedicated to Liverpool's least successful legal firmrolls irresistibly along, its double-time rhythm giving it a powerful forward momentum. In contrast, "Abram's Air" has a melancholy New Orleans feel (perhaps its a tribute to the late trumpeter Abram Wilson, if so it's a fitting one).
"The Ballad Of Bernard Swimmins" is the album's oddest, and most delightful, track. The combination of Simon James' amusing, image-laden, narrative and the band's loose, bluesy, backing can trace its lineage back to songs like Van Morrison's "In The Days Before Rock And Roll." James' tale of boyhood pleasures such as walking to school in 17/4 time namechecks Maurice Chevalier, bigs up the Mellotron and even gives a cheer for Rick Wakeman's love of the pointy hat. The world needs more of such simple joysmore of The Weave, too.
Thou Spak A Mouthful; Caresser Caress Her; Never Better; Hollie Dancer; The Ballad Of Bernard Swimmins; As Within; Cold, Wet and Sockless; Abram's Air; Apart From That Mrs Lincoln.
Martin Smith: trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; Tony Peers: trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; Rob Stringer: piano, Fender Rhodes, vocals; Tony Ormesher: guitar; Hugo “Harry” Harrison: double bass; Tilo Pirnbaum: drums, percussion; Stuart Hardcastle: percussion; Simon James; spoken word (5).
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