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Monday, June 29, 2020

Album review: Benn Clatworthy - The Pursuit

Benn Clatworthy (tenor sax/flute); John Donaldson (piano); Simon Thorpe (bass); Darren Beckett (drums).

I first heard Clatworthy back in 2014 at The Globe. It immediately became one of the front-runners for my "Gig of that Year". Fast forward to as recently as yesterday when a retro-gig extract by Clatworthy was featured as part of the LeedsJazz lockdown sessions.

And now, here he is back again and firing on all cylinders. The sound on tenor is reminiscent of Stan Getz or Hank Mobley but, particularly on the uptempo numbers, the attack is very much Coltrane in the way that he drives it onward and upward. Stretching out, striving for the unknown. On ballads he displays a rare lyricism whether playing tenor or flute.


Although born in London, it was after he moved to Los Angeles in 1980 that his career blossomed appearing with many big names. In recent years he has made frequent visits back to the UK recording and touring with the band he describes as his UK Quartet. Unfortunately, there was to be no tour this year but this fine album goes someway to softening the blow.

Donaldson, Thorpe and Beckett slot in easily and all three solo impressively as well as providing the foundation for Clat's most worthy improvisations. Beckett has recently returned to the UK after several years playing in NYC and his playing has that cutting edge required to make it over there. Thorpe is Clatworthy's first call bassist when he's in the UK. He's (or rather was) in constant demand elsewhere too. Donaldson ticks all the boxes plus a few of his own.

Clatworthy composed 5 of the 8 tunes (The Pursuit, Just Another Addiction, This One's For Celia, Space 22 and Bolivian Odyssey), Donaldson chipped in with Louisa's Song whilst T.S. Monk provided Ugly Beauty and B. Strayhorn contributed My Little Brown Book

An absolute gem by four of the finest on the current scene.
Lance
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