‘The Feel Good Place’ – Tim Thornton


YOU’RE LOOKIN’ FOR SWING?… you’ve come to the right place – Tim Thornton’s energetic, vibrant The Feel Good Place.

The London-based double bassist works with some of jazz’s finest, including Gilad Atzmon, Brandon Allen, Ivo Neame and Gregory Porter, as well being a regular member of Ronnie Scott’s All Stars and hosting a residency at Ronnie Scott’s Late Late Show with this fine quartet of James Gardiner-Bateman (alto sax), Grant Windsor (piano) and Chris Draper (drums). Known for his commanding, punchy bass sonority, Thornton also reveals his classy compositional prowess in this debut on the Jellymould Jazz label with five expansive originals plus one arrangement – and hashtags #swing and #feelgood are entirely appropriate.

Influential possibilities abound in this zazzy recording (Mingus, Ellington and Monk immediately spring to mind), right from the opening ebullience of ten-minute Sweet Chin Music. With Thornton’s solid lead always evident in the mix, Gardiner-Bateman’s unfettered alto improv is a joy, and the frequency of live playing surely contributes much to the unwavering tightness of their rhythms. Grant Windsor’s pianistic style is both precise and bright; and in tuneful Newborn (referencing US pianist Phineas Newborn Jnr.), there’s that flowing, classic feel of Peterson, Brown and Thigpen, albeit with tumbling sax melodies – altogether a totally spirited performance.

Chris Draper’s rattling percussion spikes the lazy blues of title track The Feel Good Place, with the slurred confidence of Gardiner-Bateman’s alto lines reminiscent of Ron Aspery, as Thornton scampers briskly over the fingerboard. The smile-inducing drum effervescence which introduces Monkish Dribbling (facial or footie?!) sets the players off into a bustling display of energy which almost topples over itself in excited impatience; and Tim Thornton’s sunny, re-harmonised arrangement of Paul McCartney’s Here, There and Everywhere (from, arguably, The Beatles’ most enduring album, Revolver) is pleasantly spry, encouraged along by bubbling bass and subtly Latin piano.

The slow, descending-bass wistfulness of Corona (a ballad which claims the exotic mood and melodic presence of a familiar jazz favourite) softly shimmers to Draper’s deep, malleted cymbals as the accomplished chromatic darting of Gardiner-Bateman’s lower register becomes extraordinarily redolent of Stan Getz; and fast-swing finale Wicked Rickety positively gallops its way through almost nine minutes of tricksy, no-holes-barred soloing, with rhythm-makers Thornton and Draper stealing the show before fade-out.

Released on 2 October 2015, The Feel Good Factor offers an hour of accessible, mainstream, jazz-club grooving which continually sparkles with interest – very much ‘the right place’.

Available to sample and purchase at Jellymould Jazz.


Tim Thornton double bass
James Gardiner-Bateman alto saxophone
Grant Windsor piano
Chris Draper drums


Jellymould Jazz – JM-JJ021 (2015)

‘Between Shadows’ – Reuben Fowler


FROM THE very first horns entry, this debut album from Kenny Wheeler Prize-winning trumpeter/composer Reuben Fowler announces its clear intent – contemporary big band artistry of significant stature!

Only a short time since graduation from the Royal Academy of Music, and just a handful of years from picking up his instrument as a teenager, Fowler has mustered an incredible line-up of musicians to play out the creativity that seemingly gushes from his passion for this field of jazz! The personnel is on outstanding form, boasting such names as Stan Sulzmann, Jim Hart, Tom Harrell, George Crowley, with Dave Hamblett (drums) and Matt Robinson (piano and Rhodes).

Opening number ‘Too Minor’ (written by the late Richard Turner) is an absolute tour de force, brimming with confidence and impetus, building in energy and complexity as it progresses. The mellow ‘Holness’, with George Crowley leading both smoothly and lithely on clarinet, is introduced with tight brass harmonies which then extend out into lush scoring for the whole band. Indeed, the writing is exceptional throughout this album – accessible, yet overflowing with ideas which twist and turn away from the conventional (not unlike Dave Holland’s large-scale projects).

‘Dundry (for JGB)’, written for alto sax soloist James Gardiner-Bateman and referencing his south-of-Bristol residence, presents a ten-minute groove-driven stand-out track, with Hart’s vibes and Alex Munk’s guitar suggesting a landscape more Manhattan than Somerset (Fowler & Hutch, maybe?!), complete with brassy crescendos. It just pulls you under its spell, with Tom Harrell’s flugelhorn the perfect Hubbard-like lead, and Gardiner-Bateman providing a wonderfully jarring sax line – magnificent right through to its TV theme tune close!

The five-part suite ‘Between Shadows’ neatly incorporates an exquisite arrangement of ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’, the tempo eventually changing up a gear to showcase ravishing improvisations including that of trombonist, Robbie Harvey, backed by Jim Hart. Voices add another dimension to ‘The Lost’ and ‘The Lost and the Found’ (gorgeous tone from Brigitte Beraha), with Stan Sulzmann embellishing brightly on soprano – and Fowler plays flugel so assuredly and sensitively beyond his years. Tenor player Joe Wright features on ‘Ending’, drawing this generous release (recorded in just two days) to a close.

We are told that the pieces in the suite ‘Between Shadows’ are a response to poetry which suggests ‘something special, to cherish’. That is certainly the case here, and Reuben Fowler deserves all the accolades that are sure to come his way – firstly, for his compositional maturity, and then for the achievement of masterminding such an accomplished and illustrious group of musicians to breathe life into his music.

As is the Edition Records way, the production is crystal clear, capturing the detail from the full range of dynamics to present this big band in all its glory. A real winner of an album, which is launched at The Forge, London, 25 July 2013.

Edition Records – EDN1042 (2013)