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



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BEN SIDRAN

Blue Camus

BONSAI MUSIC BON141001

 

 

Soso’s Dream

Blue Camus

‘A’ is for Alligator

The King of Harlem

Rocky’s Romance

Wake Me When It’s Over

There Used To Be Bees

Dee’s Dilemma

Ben Sidran (piano, Wurlitzer piano and vocal): Ricky Peterson (Hammond organ): Billy Peterson (bass): Leo Sidran (drums) with Bob Rockwell (saxophone) and Trixie Waterbed (background vocals) [45:08]

Ben Sidran is a force for good. I’ve enjoyed many of his discs, and look forward to hearing his music, whether straight-ahead or – as here - a touch more off-beat. His quartet – with Ricky and Billy Peterson, and Sidran’s son Leo is a tight combo. They’re joined en passant by tenor player Bob Rockwell and the backing vocals of alluringly-named Trixie Waterbed (it says here). But that’s not enough, quite, to make a truly satisfactory album.

There are eight tracks, all – with the exception of Mal Waldron’s Dee’s Dilemma – Sidran originals or co-compositions with the other members of his quartet – predominantly the latter, in fact. There’s a fine Wurlitzer workout on Soso’s Dream and its straight-ahead vibe is enjoyable. The suave hipster’s ode to Camus – all the lyrics are printed in the booklet, by the way – repay the reading but the rhythm to which they’re set is anodyne. A line beneath the title in the booklet notes that ‘A’ is for Alligator is inspired by Orwell’s Animal Farm – but, then, why the Borscht Belt feel? The King of Harlem – a live performance which elicits applause – is super-literate, no doubt, inspired by Lorca, and there’s no questioning the range of Sidran’s literary inspirations. It’s just a shame that the accompaniment lacks imagination. The sense of coasting-along is exemplified by Wake Me When It’s Over - a title that is a hostage to fortune if ever there was one. Here Sidran looks to Lewis Carroll, though tangentially, it seems to me. The instrumentals are a bit better though even here there is too little meat on the musical bones.

For me then, and for all my Sidran-admiration, a disappointment.

Jonathan Woolf



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