Review by Peter Vacher, LondonJazz
Drummer Clive Fenner is the head man at the Eastside Jazz Club in Leytonstone and had Dill Katz record his quartet on only its second gig there for use as a demo. Happily, Fenner responded when people who heard the resulting music suggested it was worth releasing as a CD and here it is. With Martin Hathaway on alto, Mark Ridout on guitar, Geoff Gascoyne on bass and Fenner at the drums, there’s a pleasing sense of unity, the lack of a piano allowing Ridout to comp and feed chords in clever fashion, Gascoyne his customary cool self as he lays down a propulsive line.
Right from the opening piece, Midnight Voyage, each man is poised to play, Hathaway’s astringent alto to the fore, taking this see-saw motif for a pleasing ride, with Ridout impressive as he is throughout the album. I especially liked the combination of guitar and alto on the nicely declamatory I’ll Take Les by John Scofield. This perky piece seemed to epitomise all the group’s strengths, with good blowing, a decent run of ideas and danceable momentum, Hathaway building his solo with repeated motifs, as Ridout, Gascoyne and Fenner get in the fusion groove.
Secret Love follows in contrast, Hathaway plaintive over Ridout’s limpid guitar ahead of the old Basie standby Topsy which swings in straight-ahead fashion. Wide-ranging material, Monk and Ornette among the composers represented, each piece given a distinctive approach and aided by abundant creativity, all help to make this a début to remember. Go for it.