Janette Mason ‘Alien Left hand (Fireball) 4/5

Having forged a reputation as a television and film arranger and composer, pianist Janette Mason has recorded a second album that is both a breath of fresh air and a mature and wholly engaging listen. Compositionally this is an overall work of great sophistication and one where sheer musicality wins out. Possibly the influence of pianists such as Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal and Keith Jarrett in knowing how to create space has impacted upon Mason. Certainly this is very American sounding. A varied selection of self-composed pieces includes the beautiful ‘Mae’s Song’, a ballad dedicated to her musician mother and one that EST would have been proud of. The catchy and inventive re-working of ‘Sweet Dreams’ is indicative of Janette Mason’s inventive mind and the shift between chorus and bass/piano vamp makes for fascinating listening. Soulful is the only way to describe ‘The Blues walked out’ and accomplished ensemble playing permeates proceedings with the subtle use of hammond organ in the background providing layered texture. With a shifting tempo on the title track, a larger brass ensemble piece, what a great way to end the album and hint at potentially new areas for the leader to explore in future albums. An exquisite album of depth and new ideas successfully transmitted to the listener.

Tim Stenhouse