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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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MARK LOCKHEART

Ellington in Anticipation

Subtone ST 802

 

 

1. It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
2. My Caravan
3. Come Sunday
4. Jungle Lady
5. Take The 'A' Train
6. Azure
7. Uptown
8. Creole Love Call
9. Beautiful Man
10. Mood Indigo
11. Indian Summer

Mark Lockheart - Tenor sax
Finn Peters - Alto sax, flute
James Allsopp - Clarinets
Emma Smith - Violin
Liam Noble - Piano
Tom Herbert - Bass
Sebastian Rochford - Drums

 

Mark Lockheart first came to our attention in Loose Tubes, the somewhat anarchic big band, so he is used to deconstructing pieces of music. Here he does the job with six Ellingtonian tunes, adding four of his own and - for some unclear reason (except that Duke recorded it several times) - Victor Herbert's Indian Summer.

The deconstrction is clear from the opening version of It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing), which is given a jerky rhythm instead of the usual common time. The unusual beat means that it ain't got that swing, although Mark's tenor solo swirls around swingingly, as does Tom Herbert's bass solo. My Caravan has a faint Latin-American feel, thanks to Seb Rochford's hand drumming, with the horns squeaking in free improvisation. Eventually they join in a unified melody, which has echoes of Juan Tizol's Caravan, although the theme doesn't emerge until near the end.

Come Sunday is given a solemn treatment by Lockheart's saxophone and Tom Herbert's bass, before Liam Noble enters on glassy piano. Jungle Lady is a Lockheart original which encapsulates some of the exotic spirit of Ellington's Virgin Islands Suite. Billy Strayhorn's Take the 'A' Train takes a while to pull out of the station, with only fragments of the tune audible. Solos from Mark's tenor sax and James Allsopp's clarinet get things moving uncertainly.

James Allsopp's clarinet and Emma Smith's violin add poignancy to Azure. In fact the violin sounds very like Ellington's Ray Nance when he plays the violin. Uptown is a jaunty piece by Mark Lockheart, although I can't see what connection it has with Duke Ellington. In Creole Love Call, Mark Lockheart's tenor solo contains some avant-garde screeches, while Liam Noble's piano solo is more melodic, anchored by firm bass from Tom Herbert.

Mark Lockheart's Beautiful Man features delicate piano from Liam Noble, and hopefully refers to Duke Ellington, who often called himself "the piano player". Mood Indigo has the air of chamber music but hots up with Mark Lockheart's solo, which leads into a complex ensemble.

It is interesting to hear these new takes on Ellingtonian music, although it might have been better to have included nothing but Ducal works to give the album a clearer focus.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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