Eat Your Greens
I wanted to say something like this is a bunch of old-school jazz-heads playing old school jazz ‘heads’ for old schooled jazzheads – and leave it at that. The assignment ticked off. This is good! And jazz fans should check it. Job done. By all the players. And a rewarding listen.
But this deserves a bit more unpacking than that – and maybe only I would ever be pleased with that first sentence anyway. So, here goes…
Anita Schwabe has been playing piano and composing for many years – here now she offers up her own compositions. She’s the leader. These are her tunes. You’ll have heard her pulling duty with Rodger Fox’s Orchestra, with big bands and small combos – but here you get to hear her songs.
And what a band.
Joining Anita is the rhythm section of Cameron McArthur (bass) and Ron Samsom (drums) with Roger Manins handling the saxes, and he always does that so well. Killer line-up.
Fresh out of the gate with the title track it’s almost as if we hear from every other member of the group ahead of Anita, a grew bit of blowing from Manins. A drum solo from Samsom. Proud, swinging bass playing from McArthur.
Of course Schwabe states the theme, is first to take the melody around the block but there’s a generosity of spirit here in showcasing the band so swiftly.
On the next track, The Way The Cards Lay, it’s Manins’ job to take the melody around the block but it’s set up by a gently sweeping, surprising piano ostinato – that sits deep inside the tune and eventually all is pared away for Samsom to roll across it, his solo darting in and around Schwabe’s lines in a way not dissimilar to how Joe Morello and Dave Brubeck used to work so well together.
Third track, Anger Management, is where we hear the band just bolting from the gates. It’s a lovely duet-dance from Manins and Schwabe, that expert rhythm section providing a swift, sharp goove for them to skate across.
This collection of songs perfectly measures ballads (Spring Tides, There Once Was A Time) with samba-swaying Bossa-evocations (Spring Ramblings), some really lovely blowing-sessions (Thermal Soaring) and crisp post-bop (Tough Shoes). There’s a stateliness to so much of the playing here – but also in the tunes themselves (The Darkness Shall Be Light, The Stillness The Dancing).
A highly recommended set. Of course the players all know what they’re doing but the pieces here enable them even further, make it easy, make it seem so effortless. This album is a cloud of joy, a spiritual dance, a lovely cuppa. Let it be the soundtrack to your versions of these sorts of experiences.