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Today

As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

CD Review: Mark Elf Returns 2014

Mark Elf (gtr); David Hazeltine (pno); Peter Washington (bs); Lewis Nash (dms); Steven Kroon (perc. on 1 track).
(Review by Lance).
The world is full of great jazz musicians and, sadly, some of these don't achieve the recognition they deserve beyond their own shores. Mark Elf may be just such an unsung hero - at least in the UK - despite a career that has included record dates with Ray Brown, Clark Terry and Ed Thigpen and appeared on stage with Dizzy, Jimmy Heath, Lou Donaldson and, no doubt, countless others.
This, his first recording in 8 years, was due to be made in 2012 but Super Storm Sandy* put that on hold after his home was flooded.
Fortunately, it all eventually came together resulting in this fine album with Elf playing my kind of guitar and ne'er a foot pedal in sight. Think Barney, Herb, Jim, Tal and you get the picture. Taste and class. Seven originals and three standards make for very enjoyable listening. The originals include a couple played on baritone guitar - an instrument I'm not familiar with but which Elf uses to great effect playing with an almost plucked cello-like tonality to create a unique sound. Having said that, it's his playing of the conventional jazz guitar that floats my boat. Such lucidity, lines that flow with apparent ease and, above all, a sense of swing that eludes many contemporary players whilst at the same time Elf's playing is not at all dated.
He shares the above qualities with his cohorts. Hazeltine, on Elf's A Little Diddy (based on Duke Jordan's Jordu) brings to mind some of John Lewis' looser work with MJQ. Washington and Nash lay down the foundation and Kroon's Latin percussion on Michelle's Mambo injects some chilli powder to the mix. Titillating is just that! How does the first line of People Will Say We're in Love (track 9 of 10) go? Oh yes I remember - Don't throw bouquets at me...
Take it from me that, if there is any justice in the world, the bouquets will be coming fast and furious!**
Lance.
*:Mark Elf's poignant composition The Sandy Effect is inspired by the storm that destroyed his home and many neighbouring communities. I can share the emotion on this one as a close friend of mine who lives down by the Jersey Shore had her life turned upside down during that period of devastation. The guitarist pours his soul into this one and rightly so.
**: Currently No 1 on the JazzWeek Charts.

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