Stan Tracey Quartet – Senior Moment (Resteamed Records) 4/5

stan_traceyStan Tracey returns with one of his freshest sounding recordings in years and at least one of the reasons for this seems to be the new musical collaboration with young and upcoming talent in saxophonist Simon Allen alongside long-term band members Andrew Cleyndert and drummer Clark Tracey. The elder Tracey has enjoyed special musical relationships with some of the all-time greats of the saxophone, most notably Sonny Rollins and Roland Kirk during their residency at Ronnie Scott’s, and this new recording recalls in part both the intimacy of the small group albums of Johnny Hodges and Ben Wesbster with Duke Ellington, and even the Duke with John Coltrane on their sole collaboration.
For this latest album Tracey has revisited some of his vast back catalogue of his compositions and, in addition, offering an excellent new suite, ‘The Grandad Suite’, devoted unsurprisingly to his own grandchildren. Coltrane and Ellington are indeed conjured up with the reflective ‘Dream of my colours’ featuring beautiful soprano saxophone from Allen while in contrast ‘Duffy’s Circus’ is an uptempo bop number in which Stan Tracey stretches out and Allen delivers a fiery solo on alto. There is an obvious nod to Thelonius Monk on the be-bop number ‘Afro-Charlie meets the white rabbit’. However, of the non-suite pieces, the tour de force is unquestionably the calypso driven ‘Triple celebration’ where the tenor of Simon Allen hints at late-fifties Sonny Rollins and the overall feel is one that Dollar Brand would be at home with. The lengthy four piece suite impresses greatly with the lyrical first piece, ‘Benology’ the stand out track once again featuring the soprano saxophone of Allen and one of the album’s most melodic pieces wheareas the fourth part, ‘Zach’s dream’ is a blues-inflected number that is the ideal vehicle for Stan Tracey to solo at length. As ever immaculate accompanying from Andrew Cleyndert and Clark Tracey respectively. This is one of Stan Tracey’s most enjoyable albums in several years and a very fitting tribute to his sadly deceased wife Jackie. Tim Stenhouse