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Bebop Spoken There

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Wednesday, April 03, 2019

CD Review: Graeme Wilson Quartet - Abscondit

Graeme Wilson (tenor sax/flute/balafon); Paul Edis (piano/keys/flute); Andy Champion (bass/bass guitar/flute); Adam Sinclair (drums/perc)
(Review by Lance).

Back in the early sixties, jazz critics had a shock awakening when they first heard the Newcastle based hardbop quintet the Emcee Five. Back then, if a band wasn't doing the rounds of the London scene they were nowhere men. However, just as the Beatles from Liverpool and the Animals from Newcastle took the London pop world by storm, so did the Emcee Five strike a blow for the provinces in the less publicised world of jazz.

Since then, the standard of jazz has risen to such heights that on most nights in most major cities you can hear jazz of world-class quality. Which leads me to pose the question - are there four better players than these guys anywhere in the country or, maybe, outside of New York?


All eight tracks were composed by Graeme Wilson whose tenor playing you wouldn't want to meet on a dark night at a jam session - or maybe you would - just have a St. John's Ambulance crew standing by. Paul Edis - a legend - a man for the occasion. You wanna symphony composed for next week, a guy to play at your daughter's wedding or someone to play some of the greatest jazz piano this (or maybe the other) side of Keith Jarrett? look no further. When it comes to bass playing no one is more fortuitously named than Andy Champion. On drums, my worthy constituent Russell has Adam Sinclair down as his favourite drummer which is a better call than the one he made for Notts County to win promotion. Adam also engineered four of the tracks as well as handling the mastering and mixing. Now if he had been in charge of Notts County...

Several of the tracks were played and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 at last Saturday's Free Thinking Festival held at Sage Gateshead. One of the numbers was After School that has Wilson, Edis and Champion forming a flute triumvirate. The compositions are complex, rhythms, time signatures, keys and moods change. It's all done seamlessly and only serves to enhance the music. The Bings is a masterclass in the art of ballad playing. The Bold Sammy features Sinclair beating out an infectious rhythm behind the tenor. Friction Motor, not surprisingly, is fast - apart from the unexpected silences. A blast by tenor, drums digging in and an amazing unison passage by horn and keys.

Jazz as we know it but also with a Scottish feel as befits the composer's heritage. Let's hope it gets picked by the BBC's dwindling jazz content or Jazz FM it deserves worldwide exposure.
Lance.

1 comment :

Roly said...

I think Graeme's Quartet is something quite unique and rather special. As you say Lance they are all great players and it's those compositions that underpin the group. It's music that makes you think, makes you smile, at times exciting, at times gentle and so charming. I would recommend anyone to go hear them if they are playing nearby.

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