The late broadcaster David Jacobs characterised his daily lunchtime programme on BBC Radio 2 as presenting “our kind of music”, in his case much of it consisted of popular tunes from musical theatre.
This tagline could equally be applied to the music produced by the enterprising Ubuntu Music label. Here, yet again, they have produced more of “our kind of music”. The label has quickly become synonymous with all that is good in jazz. I, for one, always look forward to each new release and this is no exception.
Rob Barron may not yet be a ‘household name’ in the jazz world but his star is certainly in the ascendant. This is his second album as a leader, although he is no stranger to the recording studio having featured on albums by Jamie Cullum, Alexander Stewart, Joe Stilgoe, Paloma Faith and the Skelton Skinner All-Stars, to name a few. In fact, his discography extends to no fewer than forty-two releases. In a live context, I was particularly pleased to see him featured in the debut performance by the Simon Spillett Big Band in February.
Barron’s first album under his own name was with a quartet featuring Colin Oxley on guitar. The repertoire consisted of swinging mainstream interpretations of songs taken from what is commonly referred to as the Great American Songbook together with some well-chosen jazz classics. The formula proved to be successful and is replicated here with Jeremy Brown on bass and Josh Morrison at the drums, returning from the prior album. The rapport between the trio members is immediately evident and is another reason why the whole performance is so enjoyable.
Everything about this album is almost perfect. From the enticing artwork displayed on the album cover to the quality of the sound recording. the choice of music and the performances. The repertoire consists mainly of familiar ‘standards’ including ‘Loverman’ , ‘My Foolish Heart’ and ‘As Time Goes By’. For me, it’s always a joy to hear ‘Pure Imagination’ from the film ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’. Yes, these are almost all routine pieces. but it is the quality of the playing and the unhackneyed arrangements that tell you that you are hearing something different. Alongside the tried and tested material there are a couple of pieces from the leader’s pen, both of which stand up well in such august musical company – elegant and sophisticated.
Any piano trio recording will almost certainly draw a comparison with that of the great Bill Evans and Evans’ shadow looms large. But there are other influences at play too – Sonny Clark and Wynton Kelly, perhaps. For me, I’m reminded of another wonderful British pianist; David Newton. One thing that both Barron and Newton have in common is their fabulous facility when accompanying vocalists and I wouldn’t mind betting that Barron knows the lyrics of each of the songs that he plays. It certainly shows in his playing.
This is certainly an album to accompany you during the long winter nights to come. Buy it now, whilst stocks last.