Dudley Moore Trio ‘From Beyond the Fringe’ (El/Cherry Red) 4/5

Multi-talented Dudley Moore is best known for his comic and acting skills, but it should not be forgotten that he trained formally as a pianist and this recording from 1960 captures his early career in full flow, produced by a pre-Beatles George Martin no less. Of considerable interest is the inclusion of a rare 45 of which the B-side contains a gem in ‘Duddley dell’. The delicious blues-inflected solo revealed a passion for jazz and influences that ranged from Errol Garner to Oscar Peterson. The 1962 album from which the majority of the music is taken continues in the jazz trio vein with all but one number a standard. Among these features a lovely re-working of Cole Porter’s ‘I love Paris’ that contrasts with the later 1990s version by Jackie Terrasson on Blue Note. Moore’s interpretation here is less radical, but goes through a series of different stages in the process and the leader adapts his style accordingly. An Errol Garner favourite ‘I get a kick out of you’ is given a shuffling percussive beat with Dudley in full flow throughout while in a more reflective mood the ballad ‘What’s new’ includes some fine accompaniment from a rhythm section that comprised Peter McGuirk on bass and Chris Karan on drums. For some left-field sounds, the swinging ‘Just in time’ is merely one of the album’s numerous highlights. Unlike the later recordings which give the sometimes false impression of a pianist who was content with performing three minute popified jazz instrumentals from the era, Dudley Moore was certainly several notches above a cocktail pianist and this CD provides convincing evidence to reinforce this view. The second half of the CD focuses on the comedy and dramatic side to Moore’s career and makes for an entertaining listen. Full marks to El/Cherry Red for putting virtually eighty minutes onto a single CD. Tim Stenhouse