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Saturday, July 11, 2015

CD review: Alex Hutton Trio - Magna Carta Suite

Alex Hutton (piano), Yuri Goloubev (double bass) & Asaf Sirkis (drums) + Neil Sparkes (vocals), Liz Palmer (baroque flute) & Liesbeth Allart (cor anglais)
(Review by Russell)
The Magna Carta Suite 800 years on. Listening to Alex Hutton’s latest CD one wonders if it’s a project he’s had in mind for some time. The worlds of classical and English folk music saturate this concept album. Twelve tracks with a total running time of thirty nine minutes, CD cover artwork incorporating the skills of the calligrapher and, perhaps, that of the lithographer, this F-IRE label release showcases the interests of a quintessentially English jazz musician.
Hutton is known for his freewheeling, swinging jazz piano playing. Magna Carta Suite features his regular trio – bassist Yuri Goloubev and dynamic percussionist Asaf Sirkis – playing, for the most part, in a restrained manner. The Court of King John wouldn’t have had any difficulty with the stately compositions and instrumentation on this CD. Baroque flute and cor anglais* take their place alongside the conventional instruments of a twenty first century jazz trio. Old Yew (the Magna Carta was signed under a yew tree) introduces Liz Palmer’s baroque flute. Liesbeth Allart’s cor anglais lends an authentic early music sound to the project on King John’s Hunting Lodge (one minute twenty three seconds in its brevity) and again on the closing track As Sunlight Passes (Old Yew). The closing two compositions feature the spoken word. Listed as ‘vocals’ in the CD notes, Neil Sparkes’ annunciation is that of a poet reading from a scroll. His words are printed on one side of the CD cover. Where’s the jazz? Try tracks five, six and seven. Track six – Gunpowder and Compass – is based on a theme from Bach’s Fugue in C minor. No question about it JS Bach was a proto jazz improviser! These three tracks, coincidentally (?) the longest on the CD, allow the core trio to stretch out and play some jazz. Asaf Sirkis generates huge energy, Hutton and Goloubev feed off it, this is the jazz on Magna Carta Suite.       
Magna Carta Suite is released on July 13 on the F-IRE label (F-IRECD 82).
Neil Sparkes’ Magna Carta Suite- Xerox Sonnets & X-Ray Blues is published by Hesterglock Press 2015.
Russell.
*Note – cor anglais is on track 4 (not listed in CD notes), in addition to tracks 2 and 9.

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