British singer Peter Jones typifies the pioneering spirit of many jazz musicians from the United Kingdom who have modelled themselves on one of more of the American greats, yet have gone on to forge their own identity. In this case, Mark Murphy has served as major inspiration among others, and in fact, Jones will next year publish a book devoted to that singer, and that should be one of 2018’s most welcome publications for this avid reader and many others who have long venerated Murphy as a superior exponent of jazz singing, with the ability to ad-lib at will, and with a wider intellectual hinterland.
As for the music on offer here, the all-original compositions feature a quintet that includes Davide Giovannini on drums and some readers will be familiar with his work as part of master Latin percussionist Snowboy’s band. He is in a more restrained environment for this album, but nonetheless graces the recording with his tasty set of polyrythmic-propelled grooves. Of note equally is the presence of flautist Vasilis Xenopoulos, and the songs are executed with aplomb whenever flute and vocal combine. This is illustrated on the mid-tempo flute-led, ‘Baby and Hog’, with vibraphone and electric piano giving this a 1970’s feel. The title is a subtle reference to two historical characters, with major drug addictions, who used to feed their drug habits by entertaining customers at the Harlem-based Milton’s Playhouse.
A real favourite of this writer is the nearest Peter Jones comes to an out-and-out Latin-infused number, and that is ‘Remember Summer’, with a strong 1970’s feel in the use of Fender. Mel Tormé is probably another of Jones’ influences and that certainly comes across on the reflective ballad, ‘A Voice That’s Low, A Voice That’s Sweet’, with a lovely floating effect on piano from Neil Angilley. Indeed, the instrumental accompaniment throughout is impeccable and suitably sensitive in tone.
Peter Jones has titled his forthcoming book ‘This Is Hip’, and he might have been forgiven for providing that as an alternative title to this album before us. A lovely blend of tempos and a mature set of compositions that have been beautifully crafted and delivered.