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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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STAN SULZMANN, NIKKI ILES

Treasure Trove

ASC Records ASCCD7

 

 

  1. Since We Met

  2. Treasure Trove

  3. Story Of A Story

  4. Little Dog Who Loves The Wood

  5. Veils

  6. Irish Missed

  7. I Do It For Your Love

  8. The poet

  9. Midnight

  10. Mtl


Stan Sulzmann - Saxophones, clarinet, flute, alto flute (track 9)

Nikki Iles - Piano

Martin Pyne - Percussion (track 9)


Treasure Trove, recorded in October 1995 and originally released in 1996, is a welcome reissue of an early collaboration between two of Britain's most accomplished jazz musicians. Essentially it's a duo album, though they are joined briefly by percussionist Martin Pyne on Midnight. Apart from Since We Met, a Bill Evans composition, and I Do It For Your Love, a Paul Simon tune, the music is written by either Sulzmann or Iles. Since We Met is a charming ballad which features an intricate solo from Sulzmann on alto. Vikki Iles, meanwhile, plays piano with quiet assurance on a piece by a musician who deeply influenced her style. The year the album was released, she won the John Dankworth Special Award at the BT British Jazz Awards and playing of this quality makes it clear that she was a worthy winner. The title track has an understated piano introduction from Iles and Sulzmann shows himself imaginatively at home with his own composition, again on alto. Story Of A Story, one of three pieces written by Iles, is the longest track at almost eight minutes and is gentle and ruminative by nature.

Little Dog Who Loves The Wood , where Sulzmann plays with sympathetic brio, maintains the overall mood of gentle melody, as does Veils, where he is on flute. Irish Missed begins with Sulzmann's instrument suggesting bird call, leading into a repetitive refrain. Sulzmann is on a yearning tenor sax for the romantic I Do It For Your Love. Nikki Iles' delicate touch is countered by Sulzmann's questing saxophone for The Poet . The last couple of tracks has Iles very much in a supporting role. Midnight is a vehicle for alto flute and there is discreet, indeed minimal, percussion. Mtl is pleasantly lilting and certainly one of my personal favourites here.

Since this recording first appeared, both musicians have continued to develop and make their mark on the British jazz scene. Nikki Iles, apart from her compositional gifts and her contribution to jazz education in the UK, has had a number of creative partnerships with, for instance, singer Tina May, saxophonist Martin Speake and latterly The Printmakers. Her lyrical style and sure touch is widely admired. Stan Sulzmann has been a constant encouragement to young British jazz musicians. He has been a composer/arranger for small groups and big bands alike. As well as his own groups, he has been a 'go-to' musician for others such as the late Kenny Wheeler. Yet the collaboration with Nikki Iles is still functioning. It will be interesting to compare this early effort with their forthcoming album Stardust, due out from Jellymould in December 2015. Finally, a cautionary word. If you take your jazz hot, strong and barnstorming, this album may not be for you. On the other hand, if you appreciate subtlety and melody, it's definitely worth a listen.

James Poore



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