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Saturday, April 18, 2020

Album Review: Tony Kofi - Another Kind of Soul

Tony Kofi (alto sax); Andy Davies (trumpet); Alex Webb (piano); Andrew Cleyndert (bass); Alfonso Vitale (drums)
(Review by Chris K)

A storming romp of a live recording by Tony Kofi, the hard blowing UK alto star paying a tribute to his inspiration, Cannonball Adderley.  Unusually, although there are CD copies for review, this album is designed for release on vinyl, so weighs in at a relatively lightweight 35 minutes duration. That’s the only lightweight thing about it though, as the band waste no time getting stuck in straight off with two short numbers,  A Portrait of Cannonball and  Operation Breadbasket, by Webb and Kofi respectively. The helter-skelter full-throated solos from Kofi and Davies set the tone for the rest of the album.


I confess to a certain disdain for much alto playing in the modern era, preferring the fuller tone and range of the tenor. This album has banished that notion though swept aside by Kofi’s famed raw power, with visceral N’awlins squawks and octave note bending punctuating fluid but high octane solos.

The title track Another Kind of Soul is the first of Adderley’s canon to get the Kofi treatment, with a pacy run through of the 1957 bop classic, which is remarkable for brother Nat’s upper register cornet pyrotechnics, matched by Kofi and Davies for energy and dexterity.  Kofi and co. can turn it down and play ballads too: a lovely Stars Fell on Alabama evokes the Coltrane and Cannonball 1964 version.

The band really hit their stride with the last three Cannonball classics.  Things are Getting Better (1959) comes complete with raucous carousing alto, a great piano solo from Webb and a solo outing for the immaculate Cleyndert on bass.  The top notch rhythm section also come to the fore catching the bluesy dance rhythm of Adderley’s immortal 1960 Sack O’ Woe. 

And how else would you close other than with Adderley’s signature Work Song? Often butchered as a cheesy blues, Kofi’s crew bring this to life in the authentic hard bop style of the 1960 original, with fine interplay and subtlety throughout the band.

 If you’re after fine and faithful interpretation of hard bop heaven, this is the album for you. Regardless of your taste, live they’d be a blast!  The band planned to tour the benighted south, nearest to our northern fastness being Hull Jazz Festival 17.07.2020.
Chris Kilsby

Release date: 23 April 2020.  Recorded live at Luton’s Bear Club in Nov./Dec. 2019
“The album is available in limited edition  180gm vinyl — the medium of Adderley’s era — to best replicate the ambiance of this remarkable live recording, and in digital format.”
Listen/buy LP or digital  (no CD!)  

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