Review by Peter Vacher, LondonJazz
Putting a couple of seasoned pros like saxophonist Dave O’Higgins and bassist Geoff Gascoyne together in a quartet session might seem like the same old thing but not so. The two main protagonists, ably supported by Graham Harvey on piano and drummer Seb DeKrom, composed a special series of contrafacts for the album – that’s the posh word for creating originals from familiar harmonic structures – which allied to the standards, blues and other pieces which round it out help to make this an out-of-the-ordinary get-together.
The album’s title track, written by Gascoyne, hardly hints at its origins in Alone Together, De Krom’s ticking rhythm underpinning a stop-start motif, with Harvey’s piano in reflective mode, ahead of O’Higgins' engagingly sinuous tenor and Gascoyne’s supple bass solo. Lady Face by O’Higgins, based on Dameron’s Lady Bird, has the requisite Blue Note feeling and moves well, the quartet feel-good at its best, as the composer sets out on a stirring exploration before Harvey’s nimble, boppish solo scores, emphasising his emerging status as a soloist of real consequence.
The album standout, You’re Nicked is a tricky blues with ‘a New Orleans 2nd-line groove’ as the notes have it and they’re right. This is an infectiously danceable thing, soprano in for tenor and all the better for it with De Krom’s street beat in step with Harvey’s classy groove. Its equal is Gascoyne’s Will There Ever Be, another reinvention with a zigzag shape that inspires everyone. And so it goes, with plenty to bite on in this endlessly varied assembly of performances. Just to hear Gascoyne’s swinging line on You’re Nicked is a joy in itself.