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Finally Beginning

Artist: John Warren

Date of Release: 12/01/2009

Catalogue no: FUZ 002

Label: Fuzzy Moon Records

Price: £10

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

listen

Lopsided

6.48

2

 

Winter Solstice

5.43

3

listen

Convergent

8.36

4

listen

Ruby My Dear

7.38

5

listen

Unless

8.46

6

 

Some Sketchy Spanish

8.41

7

 

Willow White

5.24

8

listen

Krank

5.06

 

 

 

 

Appearances by

Christian Brewer, Gerard Presencer, Gwilym Simcock, Jim Hart, Julian Siegel, Stan Sulzmann

 

Reviews

 

29/01/2009 Chris Parker, The Vortex Website

For sheer elegance and uncontrived sophistication, composer John Warren, whether writing for big band, John Surman’s celebrated Brass Project, or as here for nonet, is difficult to beat, and the seven original compositions and one Monk arrangement (‘Ruby My Dear’) on this album are perfect examples of his art.
Personnel varies slightly between pieces, but is comprised of trumpeters Gerard Presencer (whose speed of execution and rapidity of thought are simply breathtaking) and Martin Shaw (unshowily powerful on ‘Winter Solstice’); pithy, characterful reedsmen Stan Sulzmann and Julian Siegel; Christian Brewer (heavily featured, producing some highly affecting alto playing, his slightly bruised dignity perfectly suited to Warren’s material); trombonist Mark Nightingale (sonorous and poised throughout); and four of the brightest and best of the rising UK jazz generation: vibes player Jim Hart, pianist Gwilym Simcock, bassist Phil Donkin and drummer James Maddren, all club regulars over the past couple of years.
Both Hart and Simcock provide characteristically fluent, graceful solos, but overall, despite the striking nature of individual contributions, this is unmistakably Warren’s album, his great strength being his ability to produce the art that conceals art, all his pieces imbued with the ease and naturalness that spring from unruffled musicianly assurance.
This is the first of two albums documenting music Warren has written for nonet, and a tour is planned for 2009; if this excellent album is anything to go by, both follow-up album and live dates promise much. Strongly recommended.

 

10/11/2008 Nic Jones, All About Jazz

John Warren is a veteran of the British jazz scene having turned in work with baritone sax player John Surman over the decades. He's here exclusively as a composer and arranger and responsible for the entire program of music, apart from a reading of Thelonious Monk's "Ruby My Dear" which falls right in with the overall ethos, even as it retains its individuality.

Warren is fortunate indeed in having been able to assemble a crack band to give life to his music. In that regard at least this nine, and sometimes ten-piece band, wants for nothing despite the many facets of Warren's music.

"Winter Solstice" makes this point in no uncertain terms and does so despite the piece's essential elegance. It's melancholy too, and that aspect is teased out via Gwilym Simcock's piano—he manages to catch the mood without evoking the spirit of Bill Evans which is a considerable trick—and Martin Shaw on flugelhorn. Christian Brewer's alto sax brings some heat in the midst of this winter, but the balance struck is still a fine one.

The cover of Thelonious Monk's "Ruby My Dear" is graced again by Brewer, though this time he's in more reflective mode. Warren's arrangement is winningly deft in the way he hews closely to the composer's spirit even while his own is all over the piece. It exemplifies also how skilled he is at judging the weight of the ensemble, an aspect of his work which in a sense echoes Gerry Mulligan's work, though again of course the comparison serves only to contextualise Warren's work.

The very sparseness of "Willow White" does the same, the melody 'sung' in apt fashion by trombonist Mark Nightingale. His solo is an urbane affair that retains just enough of the trenchant to keep it from mere elegance, whilst drummer James Maddren comes into his own in accompaniment.

The absence of soloists on the closing "Kronk" has the effect of highlighting Warren's writing and in this instance, as in others, it turns out to be a model of economy. The music has room to manoeuvre and the impressionistic turns of bass, drums and vibes in particular make for some of the most distinctive music in a program that exudes both class and character in equal measure.

 

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