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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

The Coventry Suite

Frank Griffith Nonet

33 records 33JAZZ112


    1. Where or When
    2. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
    3. May Café
    4. So In Love
    5. Una Mas
    6. Edwd (for Teddy Layton)
    7. Milesteps
    8. Get Carter/Ode to Billie Joe
    9. Body & Soul
    10. The Coventry Suite

Frank Griffith – Tenor sax & Clarinet
Bob Martin – Alto sax
Mick Foster – Baritone sax & Bass clarinet
Adrian Fry – Trombone
Henry Lowther – Trumpet & Flugel
Steve Fishwick – Trumpet
Tom Cawley – Piano
Dave Chamberlain – Bass
Matt Fishwick – Drums
Trudy Kerr – Vocals 2,4&8
Gareth Locrane – Flute 1,3&4

I am a great admirer of the work of Frank Griffith. He is an admirable tenor player, a delightful clarinettist with a wonderful tone, an arranger and composer of great skill and ingenuity and as though all that wasn’t enough, he is as kindly and modest a man as you could ever wish to meet. It is not a surprise therefore that he can put together a band, which reflects his own joy with the business of music. This is a very talented ensemble indeed and it plays with a spirit that makes every ensemble passage special and every solo an adventure in improvisation.

The tune selection is excellent there are some standards, some interesting original pieces and finally and especially The Coventry Suite. I played a small part in bringing this piece about and I am proud of what Frank and his very talented band, have achieved here. It is also pleasing that Frank has incorporated themes written by two of my friends, keyboard players Mike Kemp and Owen Dutton, into the piece. Both have spent many years in the City so they have a feel for what makes it tick. I felt that a Jazz Festival should be more than a collection of visiting guest stars!

Back to the music, the arrangements having something of an updated Miles Davies, ‘Birth of the Cool’ feel about them at times, but it is only subliminal because this band has a sound of it’s own. Trudy Kerr provides a nice relaxed vocal style on So In Love and there is some fine Alto playing from Bob Martin, what an asset he is to any band. Una Mas is given an arrangement mildly reminiscent of the Gerry Mulligan Concert Band, Henry Lowther plays an interesting trumpet solo, before frank takes us into the final ensemble. Edwd written by Adrian Fry is a feature for Bob Martin, whose solo on this one is world class by anybody’s standards. Frank’s exciting composition Milesteps finds the whole band swinging with excellent solos from Frank, Steve Fishwick and brother Matt and some fine ensemble playing from the band.

Body & Soul is one of the greatest Ballads ever and Frank’s version is a welcome addition to the many fine soloists from Coleman Hawkins onward who has played it.

Finally the Coventry Suite, I mentioned it earlier, something for the Coventry Jazz Festival Committee to be really proud of.

If you have difficulty in obtaining a copy of the record phone 01582 419584 in the UK or email or buy it at the Coventry Jazz Festival, August 27 to 30, 2004

This record is different without being weird, a pity we don’t hear more of this kind jazz.

Don Mather

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