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Ellington In Anticipation

Artist: Mark Lockheart

Date of Release: 18/02/2013

Catalogue no: 2154

Label: Subtone Records

Price: £12

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

 

It Don't Mean A Thing ( If It Ain't Got That Swing)

5.42

2

 

My Caravan

6.02

3

 

Come Sunday

5.01

4

 

Jungle Lady

6.36

5

 

Take The A Train

6.03

6

 

Azure

3.55

7

 

Uptown

3.41

8

 

Creole Love Call

6.13

9

 

Beautiful Man

4.31

10

 

Mood Indigo

5.33

11

 

Indian Summer

4.13

 

 

 

 

Appearances by

Finn Peters, James Allsopp, Liam Noble

Ellington In Anticipation is Lockheart’s first album on his new label SUBTONE and it’s a record of great originality and integrity. Taking a number of Ellington’s most revered compositions such as Mood Indigo, Take The A Train, It Don’t Mean A Thing, Azure and Creole Love Call, Mark has deconstructed and arranged these characterful melodies into a fascinating set of new music, rich in orchestration and concept and still entirely respectful to the beauty of the composer’s original creations.

Mark Lockheart first emerged on the UK scene in the 1980’s as a member of seminal big band Loose Tubes. Since then, he has co-led the eclectic Perfect Houseplants and led his own highly original Scratch Band, as well as playing saxophone in the ground-breaking Polar Bear. In 2010 he was awarded Jazz Musician Of The Year at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards following the release of the critically acclaimed album In Deep.

If the saxophonist-composer had a motto, it would surely be, ‘Do different things and do things differently’. Everything Lockheart has done in his career has had the stamp of individuality and been marked by a determination to plot his own course, and the boldness of this new album reinforces that.

From the opening bars of It Don’t Mean A Thing (if it ain’t got that swing) it’s clear that although based on Ellington’s classic tune, this version is going in a different direction. The bedouin inspired sounds of My Caravan give way to high energy improvisation and Lockheart’s reworking cheekily only refers to the famous Juan Tizol melody right at the end. Similarly, the original composition Jungle Lady subtly quotes Ellington’s well loved tune, Satin Doll.

Lockheart’s fascination with the Duke started in 1973 when as a young lad he heard Ellington’s band in concert at Eastbourne and was struck by the individuality of the players. Creating his own band of distinctive musical personalities was therefore crucial in capturing the essence of Ellington’s music and by assembling six of the UK’s finest musicians to perform with him Lockheart has done exactly that. Liam Noble is quietly becoming one of Europe’s very best pianists, as you can hear in his inspired soloing on Creole Love Call and his beautifully haunting melodic playing on the final track Indian Summer. The bass and drum combination of Seb Rochford and Tom Herbert (two of Lockheart’s Polar Bear buddies) is a potent one, laying down fat, earthy grooves. The three reeds and violin that make up the rest of the band all feature at various points: James Allsopp’s bass clarinet rumbling mysteriously away on Take The A Train and Jungle Lady, Finn Peters’ alto saxophone on My Caravan, Emma Smith’s violin on Azure and Lockheart’s own tenor saxophone solos are all highlights.

The individual solo contributions are inspired throughout but its the writing that focuses the attention time and again; the orchestrated textures, the interplay, and the radical melodic re-invention which beautifully combines the old with the new.

Mark Lockheart , Finn Peters -saxophones
James Allsopp -clarinet , Emma Smith -violin, Liam Noble -piano, Tom Herbert- bass, Seb Rochford- drums

 

Reviews

 

01/05/2013 MOJO , Chris Ingham

The familiar titles belie the disarming originality of this record. Core Ellingtonian melodies remain intact ( Mood Indigo, Come Sunday, et al), everything else ( harmony, rhythm, structure) is rearranged for septet with wit, ingenuity and boldness. Interspersing with Ellington- inspired originals, saxophonist/arranger Lockheart has hit upon a delightful solution to the old/new wrangle.

 

22/02/2013 BBC Music, John Eyles

Over 30 years, tenor saxophonist Mark Lockheart has steadily built up an impressive and eclectic discography.
Alongside albums on which he is leader – this is the eighth – he has been a member of such groundbreaking groups as Loose Tubes, Perfect Houseplants and Polar Bear. He’s also guested on classic records like Prefab Sprout’s Steve McQueen and Radiohead’s Kid A.
To record Ellington in Anticipation, Lockheart selected a star-studded group including his Polar Bear bandmates bassist Tom Herbert and drummer Seb Rochford plus piano ace Liam Noble.
Alongside Lockheart are Finn Peters on alto sax and flute, clarinettist James Allsopp and violinist Emma Smith. That instrumentation gave Lockheart a versatile palette that he’s exploited to produce a rich variety of moods and textures.
The album’s 11 tracks include such well-loved Duke Ellington pieces as Mood Indigo and Creole Love Call alongside four Lockheart originals which borrow from and pay homage to Ellington.
Though Lockheart has been an Ellington fan for 40 years, this is not a tribute album of faithful recreations. Each piece has been rethought and radically remodelled to create vibrant new music.
The end results are Ellington for the 21st century.
So, his version of Take the A Train includes only an impressionistic reading of its distinctive horn riff. This piece is used as the basis for a loose, free-flowing improvisation with notable contributions from piano, drums and all three reeds.
In contrast, Lockheart’s My Caravan begins loosely as a percussion-driven improvisation which evolves gradually until closing with a full-blooded rendition of the refrain from Ellington’s own Caravan.
Above all, Lockheart is a first-rate composer and arranger, with Ellington’s knack of deploying individual players to give pieces distinctive characters. His full-bodied tenor playing impresses throughout, both as a soloist and in conjunction with Finn and Allsopp.
Noble’s piano playing repeatedly commands attention, notably on Beautiful Man, where he is joined by Smith’s violin to create an appealingly meditative mood, and on the hauntingly beautiful closing track Indian Summer.
Ellington in Anticipation seems sure to appeal equally to fans of Polar Bear, Lockheart and the Duke.

 

14/02/2013 The Guardian, John Fordham

Saxophonist Mark Lockheart, a key contributor to the laconic lyricism of Polar Bear, has been quietly evolving into one of the UK jazz scene's outstanding composers. Lockheart's lifelong enthusiasm for Duke Ellington, and subsequent inspirations from Gil Evans to Django Bates, sound more imaginatively connected on this mix of originals and deconstructed Ellington classics than on any of his earlier albums – and a dream septet including Liam Noble on piano and Seb Rochford on drums set a raft of fresh ideas in motion. Lockheart's Ellington reinventions are radical, but never less than heartfelt tributes: It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) is played as a waltz, wriggling with Django Batesian countermelodies; Take the A Train opens to a chattering Colin Towns-like piano ostinato and is full of contemporary rhythm zigzags; Mood Indigo is for wistful violin before getting multi-melodic. Lockheart's own My Caravan is a Rochford-powered groove-juggle for bass clarinet epithets (James Allsopp) and alto sax eruptions (Finn Peters) that becomes Ellington's Caravan in the final minute; Beautiful Man is a classical-sounding meditation for Emma Smith's violin; an interpretation of Creole Love Call slowly builds a bluesy clamour out of airy beginnings; and Liam Noble is dreamily inspired on Indian Summer. It's a fine session, for Polar Bear fans and Ellington disciples alike.

 

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