1. Smoke and Mirrors
2. While We Were Young
3. Minor Pennies
4. What If.
5. If You Never Come to Me
6. The Man I Love
Bobby Wellins - Tenor sax
Kate Williams - Piano
This duo recording between the veteran Scottish tenor player and the gifted, classically-trained Williams was recorded during a day of rehearsal and live sessions at Dean Clough, the vast complex in Halifax that was once the home of Crossley Carpets but is now a thriving base for artistic endeavours of all kinds. The result is a master class in musical empathy.
Wellins, now 76 , happily shows no sign of diminishing powers - indeed his recent recordings are among the best of his long career, but none better than this, where the delightful surroundings, Kate Williams' perfectly-judged accompaniment and the presence of his loyal friend, Andrew Cleyndert, as recording engineer, inspire Wellins to creative heights.
The material is neatly divided between four originals and four standards and it's on the latter, in particular, that Wellins' unique and instantly recognisable tenor soars through improvised choruses of breathtaking beauty. The Glaswegian-born Wellins may have assimilated the influence of West Coast saxophonists such as Getz and Sims, but there's more than a hint of the Highlands and Islands in his yearning, reedy sound.
The duo's version of the Van Heusen/Burke classic, Imagination, is a consummate example of the art of ballad-playing, but there are other highlights too: Williams' cool, reflective solo piece, What If..; the jaunty original P.S.; Wellins' long, haunting phrases on Jobim's If You Never Come to Me; but every track has `highlight' moments on this beautifully recorded CD.