‘Days of Blue’ – Patrick Naylor

DaysofBlue

THE FIRST album under his own name for a decade, guitarist/composer Patrick Naylor presents Days of Blue – a bright and breezy collection of original music which, in collaboration with favourite instrumentalists and vocalists, comprises easy-flowing contemporary jazz imbued with soundtrack, folk and world music.

As an experienced session musician, band leader, educator, and also writer for film, television and BBC Radio, Naylor is adept at distilling these influences into an accessible sequence of ten numbers which gleam with a variety of hues and atmospheres. And whilst he is clearly an accomplished soloist and leader, this is far from an out-and-out ‘guitarist’s album’, but rather a varied, balanced and articulate jazz experience.

Opening with a lively raga feel, Baba flutters to Naylor’s rapid sitar-like guitar phrases, shared with alto sax – a TV theme soundworld full of mystery and conundrum (reminiscent of Christopher Gunning or George Fenton); and Naggar, the first of two vocal numbers, relaxes into Carpenters-style mellowness, Stephanie O’Brien’s clear, genial delivery enriched by atmospheric cello and accordion. The tenor-and-guitar impudence of Rifferama rolls to peppy drums and percussion, revealing both Patrick Naylor’s and Ian East’s improvisational composure – a tidy, chirpy outing; and warm, Jobimesque title track Days of Blue eases along to Sara Mitra’s dreamy vocals, blithe cello and ornamented feel-good acoustic guitar.

Initially dark and inquiring, the nine-minute major/minor expanse of Blue Morning opens out to showcase Patrick Naylor’s electric guitar prowess, his infectious bluesy groove sitting somewhere Mark Knopfler and BB King – and, along with David Beebee’s deliciously sleek Rhodes and Ian East’s cool, mode-exploring tenor, this becomes an irresistible standout. Waiting again displays that signature penchant for soundtrack, East’s soprano sax creating a deliciously wistful yet subtly tensile mood; and the edgy Latin pulse of Restless features deft, animated piano and beautifully-toned, Frisellian guitar soloing.

The prominent tenor assurance in Lost Song and After Dark is reminiscent of British saxophonist Tim Garland, as Naylor’s precise, softly-resonant guitar in the latter evokes the late, hazy afterglow of Summer evenings; and Vamp hints at late ’70s prog as grittier, sustained electric guitar (with echoes of Steve Hackett) weaves its way through Milo Fell’s colourful, open percussion.

An enjoyable album of measured congeniality rather than groundbreaking revelation – recorded and mixed by the renowned Derek Nash – Days of Blue is now available to purchase at Jazz CDs or Bandcamp (take a listen there).

 

Patrick Naylor guitars
Ian East saxes
David Beebee piano, double bass
Milo Fell drums, percussion
Alex Keen double bass
with
Natalie Rozario cello
Sophie Alloway drums
Daniel Teper accordion
Sara Mitra vocals
Stephanie O’Brien vocals

patricknaylor.com

Beeboss – PNDOB01 (2015)

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‘Ana’ – Emilia Mårtensson

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MUSICAL DISCOVERIES are, I believe, waymarkers on a lifetime’s journey of appreciation and enjoyment of the artistic creativity that those blessed with a talent bestow upon us. Once experienced, they stay with us forever, evoking memories of the first unexpected rush of exhilaration that touched our soul.

In 2010, I chanced upon a debut release (Kairos Moment) by hitherto unknown contemporary jazz ensemble, Kairos 4tet. Led by indomitable saxophonist Adam Waldmann, their originality spoke loudly and clearly to me – and amongst the instrumental energy, a jazz vocalist delivered a single heartfelt ballad, Unresolved. Transfixed by its depth and beauty, I went on to discover this solo artist’s own debut album (And So It Goes… with pianist Barry Green) as well as appearances on subsequent Kairos albums and intimate piano-accompanied performances in London and Manchester.

Unsurprisingly, Emilia Mårtensson is rapidly making a name for herself on the London jazz circuit and beyond. A grounding in the folksongs of her native Sweden and standards of the leading ladies of jazz, combined with an admiration for a singer-songwriter genre that includes Paul Simon, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, has resulted in a meltingly gorgeous voice characterised by sincerity, warmth, dynamic control and endearingly crisp Anglo-Swedish diction.

Masterminded by producers Rory Simmons and Alex Bonney, this second solo release features a particularly inventive instrumental line-up, the spacial detail of which complements and colours Mårtensson’s sensitive approach so appropriately. As before, Barry Green’s expressive and intuitive piano is the perfect match for Emilia’s velvety tones. Rhythmic and ornamental zest is provided via a refreshing range of timbres from Brazilian percussionist Adrian Adewale; and bringing a deep sense of equilibrium is bassist Sam Lasserson. Finally, fashioning the most wonderfully interwoven textures on half of the album’s ten tracks are the Fable String Quartet, whose precision and integrality with this project are outstanding.

Illustrating all of this is opening number Harvest Moon, written by Jamie Doe, Emilia’s soft vocals floating above a gently bubbling momentum. In profound dedication to her grandmother, Ana is communicated with love (Soft, at night, her hand on mine, she says, “Close your eyes before you open up your mind”), Barry Green decorously enhancing the affectionate mood over Sam Crowe’s delicate string arrangement. Barnaby Keen’s Learnt from Love is a standout, the distinctive chord progressions and melody of the chorus, in particular, still lodged in my mind from a live first hearing last July; and Emilia’s voice also displays a brighter, stronger edge.

Tomorrow Can Wait is perfect for Mårtensson, the heart-on-sleeve poignancy of writer Emine Pirhason’s verses emphasised by the initial sparseness of solo piano, and Emilia’s digitally-layered harmonies are used to great effect here, suggesting her folk roots. Traditional Swedish folksong is represented by bass/percussion-accompanied När Som Jag Var På Mitt Adertonde År; and Black Narcissus Music, Joe Henderson’s familiar tune set to Emilia Mårtensson’s skilfully-intoned words, is interpreted breezily courtesy of a great Rory Simmons string arrangement which melds perfectly with the instrumental trio.

Paul Simon’s Everything Put Together Falls Apart comes so naturally to Mårtensson before Green and co. run with it in a jaunty, bluesy direction. Moffi’s Song confirms her own songwriting prowess, its string-led arrangement imbuing this tribute to her grandfather with the feel of an old jazz classic; and to close, a folksy unaccompanied miniature, Vackra Människa – the translation, ‘beautiful person’, so very fitting for this accomplished singer.

Released on 7 April 2014 (in Babel Label’s 20th anniversary year), Ana is available here … a musical discovery awaits.

Video: The Making of Ana
Video: Harvest Moon


Emilia Mårtensson
 voice
Barry Green piano
Sam Lasserson double bass
Adriano Adewale percussion

The Fable String Quartet
Kit Massey violin
Paloma Deike violin
Becky Hopkin viola
Natalie Rozario cello

Babel Label – BDV14126 (2014)