Wellington jazz guitarist Nick Granville has been working hard as a session player and in various combos for many years now – he’ll sit in on a jam-night, back international and local talent and when he gets a chance to step up and play his own tunes he can deliver. A tasteful player who thinks about the song, or the tune at least, always. And so here we have Granville leading a talented quartet with Roger Manins on sax, Ron Samson on drums and Olivier Holland on bass; stalwarts all.
And on the lengthy New Orleans On A Long Lead all of the players get to shine, but Manins is certainly given plenty of space to wail, further proof that Granville knows how to sit back, he’s not interested in hogging the spotlight. Drummer Samson cooks a nice groove on this track too and Granville adds some bluesy stings to the outro.
Earlier on the album there are ballads like the charming and measured Blues For Les and protracted bop pieces like Tossed Salad And Scrambled Eggs. It’s a smart set of songs and there are one or two rock-out moments as on Gloves Off (again Manins gives it a real good go, with Granville sitting back to play rhythm-section support before Samson fires off a nice solo). If there’s a downside to this album – it’s that it’s perhaps, in parts, a little too safe. You know these players can really go and you’d like them to take it way out, but that’s almost nitpicking. Because the stuff that’s here is really nice, tasty, tasteful and it’s so easy to listen to – over and over – without ever falling down into the naff side of easy-listening.
Granville and crew should be well pleased with this. And so should listeners.