All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Tom Harrison: Unfolding In Tempo

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
London-based alto saxophonist Tom Harrison leads a tight and imaginative band on Unfolding In Tempo, a live album of "reflections on the Ellington/Strayhorn Canon." After three years intense study of Ellington and Strayhorn, Harrison has selected a mix of tunes that display the breadth of that canon, from the famous to the lesser-known, recorded at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham and the Pizza Express club in London's Soho.

The first track, recorded in Cheltenham, is the most famous—"Take The 'A' Train." Cleveland Watkiss opens proceedings with his vocal impression of a train pulling out of a station: the image is more rural English branch line than Manhattan subway but it's fun. The "A" train, he tells the crowd, is the quickest way to get to Cheltenham—although he rather destroys the illusion by revealing that he travelled to the gig by car. Never mind, for there's a lovely, laid-back, quality to the track as singer and instrumentalists gradually interweave, gain confidence in their interactions and build up to a swinging mid-tempo rhythm over which Harrison delivers the first of many fluid and intricate solos. Harrison makes way for the rhythm section—pianist Robert Mitchell, bassist Daniel Casimir and drummer David Lyttle—to have some fun with the tune, shifting tempo and engaging in yet more locomotive impressions.

Other tracks offer plenty of scope for each band member to take the spotlight, but Harrison and Watkiss grab most of the attention. On Mercer Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" there's another excellent alto solo (over Casimir's cool walking bass) and a hip Watkiss vocal. Watkiss is clearly skilled at engaging an audience, whether he's encouraging the Pizza Express crowd to join in with his scatting or telling them the tale of how he got into jazz.

Sound quality on this live recording is excellent, voice and instruments coming across clearly. The atmosphere of the gigs also comes across very well, especially Watkiss' interactions with the audience, which responds with more enthusiasm and gusto than might be expected from a jazz crowd. As is often the case with live albums, some of the audience participation is less fun to listen to than it presumably was to be part of, but it serves to emphasise the live atmosphere.

Harrison closes the album with a solo version of Ellington's "Warm Valley" from the band's Pizza Express gig. Apart from the occasional clink of a glass, the audience listens in silence to Harrison's emotive playing then bursts into applause as he finishes—as it should, for this is a lovely performance.

Track Listing: Take The ‘A’ Train; Things Ain’t What They Used To Be; The Minor Goes Muggin’; My Little Brown Book; Solitude; The Intimacy Of The Blues; Warm Valley.

Personnel: Tom Harrison: alto saxophone; Cleveland Watkiss: vocals; Robert Mitchell: piano; Daniel Casimir: bass; David Lyttle: drums.

Title: Unfolding In Tempo | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Lyte Records


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Why Not CD/LP/Track Review
Why Not
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 26, 2018
Read Together CD/LP/Track Review
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 26, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 26, 2018
Read Blood CD/LP/Track Review
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 26, 2018
Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read "James Weldon Johnson: God's Trombones" CD/LP/Track Review James Weldon Johnson: God's Trombones
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 1, 2018
Read "While We Still Have Bodies" CD/LP/Track Review While We Still Have Bodies
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 23, 2018
Read "Don't You Wish?" CD/LP/Track Review Don't You Wish?
by Patrick Burnette
Published: March 3, 2018
Read "Closer To Home" CD/LP/Track Review Closer To Home
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 20, 2018
Read "Plus One" CD/LP/Track Review Plus One
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 24, 2018
Read "async Remodels" CD/LP/Track Review async Remodels
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 17, 2018