Jazz possesses the infinite capacity to live both in the present and the past. And this new album by saxophonist Tom Harrison in the company of singer Cleveland Watkiss, pianist Robert Mitchell, bassist Daniel Casimir and drummer David Lyttle, provides ample evidence of this.
The past takes care of itself, with repertoire mined mainly from deep within the Ellington/Strayhorn songbook (‘Take the A Train’ reinvented by Watkiss for a Cheltenham audience reflecting its live setting at the Everyman theatre, ‘Things Ain’t What They Used To Be,’ ‘Solitude’ etc), while Robert Mitchell injects modernistic jazz chords and the whole band pushed hard by a scampering pared down rhythmic treatment Lyttle delivers on drums, the urgent interjections and rampaging arabesques of Harrison floating on top.
Bassist Daniel Casimir, recently a winner at the latest Worshipful Company of Musicians competition, nestles in expertly and knits well with Lyttle, the album full of life and vitality that belies the fact that the material is so antique and familiar.
Recorded live in Cheltenham and at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London, Unfolding in Tempo is a must for anyone interested in Ellingtonia and how a new generation across the Atlantic relates to it more than a half a century on.
The album is launched at the Vortex in London on 15 October.
Tom Harrison, above