Artist: Esmond Selwyn

Date of Release: 01/02/2013

Catalogue no: SLAMCD 291

Label: SLAM

Price: £16.99

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Track Listing









Esmond Selwyn – Guitar
Paul Sawtell – Keyboards
Bill Coleman – Bass
Tony Richards – Drums

Recorded at Wrexham Jazz Club November 2002.
Recording engineer Marc Joy, Ferndale Studio.

Esmond Selwyn and Paul Sawtell first met and worked together in the early 90’s when they were both booked to appear at The Shrewsbury Jazz Festival. Apart from their jazz work in and around the Stafford and Birmingham areas and their highly prestigious tour to the Far East with Salena Jones, their long collaboration has also produced two fine albums: the first being “Follow That” – SLAMCD 240 in 1999 - which scored an accolade from Tony Mottolla, Frank Sinatra’s guitarist - and now most recently “Renegade” - a quartet live double album from the same era – recently rediscovered and presented for the market. Esmond and Paul are joined by Bill Coleman on bass on both albums, however Tony Richards replaces Robin Jones on drums for “Renegade”.

“Renegade” has already been warmly received by those who have heard it – viz. www.esmondselwyn.com . On reviewing their earlier work Esmond, as leader, finds it representative of the spontaneity, immediacy and invention of the time and is pleased that the music still really swings - and he believes that there is a quite a difference between merely playing fast and actually swinging. He has also always been sparked and inspired by Paul’s qualities both as soloist and accompanist – but equally for his qualities as entertainer and his spontaneous musical wit! Note at the end of "China Boy" as the last chord is fading, how Paul slips in a humorous and very apt quote from “By The Sleepy Lagoon” – the signature tune to the BBC Radio Programme, “Desert Island Discs”…..!

"Esmond Selwyn’s guitar a delight throughout." Dave Tracey, Programme Manager – The International Guitar Festival of Great Britain.

"Esmond - Thanks for "Renegade". I enjoyed it brother - you sound great". Dave Liebman.




26/07/2018 Brian Morton

He doesn’t “shred”. He doesn’t do Radiohead tunes (as far as I know). He doesn’t seem to carry a suitcase of effect pedals. Maybe this is why Esmond Selwyn is not (yet) a headline name, as least not in the usual prints. It’s clear from the messages and endorsements printed on these two discs – from Peter Vacher, Digby Fairweather, Dave Liebman, Freddie King – that the Englishman is highly respected by fellow musicians and particularly where guitarists are gathered. There’s a lot of listening here, although no longeurs and you won’t have to listen long before wondering why you are not regularly reading rave reviews about the guy.
Selwyn’s gift isn’t so much his guitar-playing as his natural facility with harmony. He has a complete intuitive approach to the progress of a chord, its changing colouration and its appropriate dynamics. Listening to him on All Blues or unaccompanied on Polkadots and Moonbeams is a bit like watching one of those chromatophoric sea creatures whose skin ripples with deceptive colour change. Like Selwyn, they’re mostly shy creatures that don’t seek the spotlight, or the predatory attention of the media in his case, but the analogy holds more literally, too. Selwyn has an uncanny knack for colouring a chord without appearing to do anything more than finger it and pick or strum. Some of the group tracks on Renegade (and I’m still wondering why the album is called that) stretch to more than 10 minutes, but none of them, even the more generic read of the Parker line, flags in invention for a second. Some of these interpretations are definitive, for my money, I don’t expect to hear Nancy done any better than this, and the breeze of Fine & Dandy suggests that there’s a touch of humour underneath the mostly serious surface.
Great stuff. Private Eye has rightly outlawed “national treasure” as an honorific but here’s a worthy exception. Brian Morton Jazz Journal August 2018.


01/07/2013 Bernie Koenig

Wow. A quartet playing real
standard tunes and soloing
on real changes with real time.
Back to the 60s. And there is nothing wrong with that.
I am not familiar with the players
here. Selwyn, according to my little
research, has been a mainstay of
the British jazz scene for sometime,
getting high praise from all kinds
of musicians. Judging from the
sound I assume he is playing an
acoustic guitar with a pickup. He
gets a nice tone, and he swings.
His solos appear to have a sense of
structure. But, when playing tunes
with such pretty melodies, it would
be nice for the solos to somehow
include aspects of those melodies. But, and I am guilty of this too, we all too often
just create our own patterns on the chord structures.
Sawtell also plays on the chords. He mixes a nice two handed approach with nice single note lines with nice left hand chords. Every once in a while Selwyn adds
some chords behind Sawtell. Coleman and Richards
make a great rhythm team. Coleman’s solos fit with
the rest of the group but in most cases Richards, who
gets to trade fours, eights and choruses, just keeps the
rhythm gong working off cymbal and snare. On two
occasions—“China Boy’” and “Yardbird” he uses his
toms, but with no real structure.
The group plays with high energy, and the audience
clearly liked what they were hearing. But about halfway through the second CD I had enough. All the
solos started to sound the same. Selwyn, to my ears,
gets caught up in his technique, and the flow suffers.
Perhaps this is the case since most of the tunes were
all played at the same tempo. There are a couple of
ballads. And “All Blues” was played way too fast. Maybe
I would have been as enthusiastic as the audience if I
had been there.
Bernie Koenig http://www.cadencejazzmagazine.com/membersonly/admin/assets/Cadencejuly2013.pdf


25/06/2013 Euan Dixon

This is as lively a set of guitar jazz as I’ve heard in a long time and being played in a manner steeped in the DNA of such luminaries as Tal Farlow, Barney Kessell , Herb Ellis, Howard Roberts, not forgetting Wes Montgomery, it is pleasingly retro without being slavishly deferential. This is not a homage but rather, a joyful celebration of bop guitar conventions before the seismic shift initiated by Jimmy Hendrix moved the artistic pendulum away from melodic invention towards the expressive extremities of distortion and feedback that is found in the work of most post-modern guitarists. In his enthusiastic and informative sleeve note Digby Fairweather tells us that Esmond and his colleagues are first call British session men, highly regarded in the trade but not well known to the general public: if justice is done and this fine double CD set gets the exposure and distribution it deserves the jazz buying public will be well served indeed.

As befits his stylistic ambitions Selwyn offers a programme of familiar jazz standards and songbook ballads, all explored intelligently at some length and taken at a fair lick astutely avoiding the doldrums that can sometimes afflict the jam session format .The overall feel is buoyant and euphoric with headlong swing and melodic invention being the hallmark of both frontline instrumental voices. The presence of a small studio or club audience conveys a live concert ambience that enhances the spontaneity of the session without tempting the musicians to easy solutions and though Sawtell is guilty of one `shave and a haircut` banality his playing like that of his leader seamlessly switches between speedy linearity and climactic chordal passages with effortless and refreshingly creative élan and vivacity. In their hands old warhorses like `Fine and Dandy`, `China Boy` and `Summertime` are revitalised with fresh licks whilst the `Blue Monk` and `Cantaloupe Island` are retro –fitted with new vamps and even the usually languid `All Blues` is shoved into top gear.

If Esmond Selwyn is the `Renegade` of the title it must be because he refuses to be intimidated by critical opinion that holds that the replication of past styles, however freshly minted they sound, is somehow reactionary and perhaps, like Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Peyton and Scott Hamilton, he is proud to be a guardian of a living tradition and keeper of the flame. If so, more power to him.


01/06/2013 Brian Morton

"Textbook examples of how to play blues-based music on what Eps called the 'lap-piano' without falling into the thoughtless and profligate excesses of today's so-called guitar"; so Digby Fairweather in his liner note, and how we severally nod or bridle at "thoughtless" and "so-called". There is a school of thought that does, indeed, only welcome in the guitar if it promises to behave, and to behave pianistically, or resign itself to backroom duties, like Freddie Green's. Pace the splendid Fairweather, who has refined this kind of schoolmasterly prose down the years, the excitement of Esmond Selwyn's record is precisely the hint that it might suddenly break loose and chase down the profligate. This, after all, is a jazz guy who named one album Axe and calls this one Renegade (and puts a weathered Native American chief on the front).

Selwyn's playing is more Joe Pass than George Van Eps, though there an Eps-ome quality to the chords on Blue Monk. He tells stories which like all great fiction stick to the conventions of story-telling in full knowledge that the line between creativity and repetition is very narrow. Everything here is invested with urgency, commitment and rigorous technical control, but always with the sense that Selwyn might have heard Electric Ladyland and nursed ambitions.

The group's terrific. The interplay on Cantaloupe Island makes it one of the best versions of the Hancock tune I've heard and they positively clatter through Yardbird Suite. These are mostly extended performances as the durations will suggest. Nancy is usually done as a posy of cameo, but gets nearly 12 minutes of searching chordal and melodic inspection. Sometimes the guitar overtones are a little tooo brassy and acidic but that's partly where the sense of danger lies. Look into that old guy's face on the cover. He may be posing quietly for the camera but he has a tomahawk under his robe. Or an axe. That's what this fine music sounds like, still on the reservation but . . .


23/04/2013 Chris Parker

A recent review of this double live CD from one of the UK’s most respected
guitarists praises Esmond Selwyn’s clean picking, abundance of
ideas, and a tone to die for from his ES 175 with Charlie Christian
pickup, and his website
contains fulsome tributes from (among many others) George Coleman (you
sound great, boy!) and Frank Sinatra’s guitarist Tony Mottola (these
days my pleasure is listening to great players like yourself), yet
Renegade’s sleeve-note writer, Digby Fairweather, is somewhat
rueful about Selwyn’s undersung status in the jazz pantheon, quoting the
late alto player Bruce Turner to illustrate his point: “There is no route
to greatness in British jazz”. There is, however, a simple explanation for
this apparent neglect: he plays an instrument that , arguably more than
any other in jazz, has undergone a sea-change in the technology that
produces the sounds available to it, and as a consequence, the technique
of its practitioners, since the rise of rock music in the late 1960s.
Selwyn;s models (listed by Fairweather as Tal Farlow, George Van Eps and
Joe Pass) are simply not those commonly cited by most contemporary
guitarists, raised on the music of Carlos Santana, Lowell George, Jimi
Hendrix and post-rock-era jazz guitarists such as Bill Frisell, John
Scofield, Mike Stern et al. Nevertheless, listening to Selwyn barrelling
his way through seven exhilarating choruses of this album’s opening track,
‘Fine and Dandy’ does induce a kind of nostalgia for the days of
clean, fleet solo runs, especially when, as here, the guitarist in
question is as well versed in what Fairweather calls “the sunny major-key
vocabulary of swing and its predecessors” as in the advanced harmonic
lines and devices that distinguished bebop. Throughout a nicely balanced
set that includes accommodating standards (All the Things You Are,
Just One of Those Thingsetc.) as well as jazz classics and bop
staples (Blue Monk, All Blues, Yardbird Suite),
Selwyn breezes confidently through a series of joyous, exuberant but
consistently musicianly solos, competently shadowed by pianist Paul
Sawtell, bassist Bill Coleman and drummer Tony Richards,
to the audible satisfaction of an enthusiastic audience. Those wishing to
hear Selwyn in an organ-trio setting, moreover, might like to investigate
another Slam CD, The Middle Half, on which Selwyn plays alongside
organist John-Paul Gard and drummer Robin Jones. Great
playing like this should never really go out of fashion.


21/03/2013 unknown author

In the mainstream of European musicians who usually do not go in
U.S. has problems to be known outside the country. It is a
widespread, as evidenced by this record of British guitarist Esmond Selwin.
His is an excellent technique that comes from the great guitar
as Tal Farlow or Joe Pass, with a touch of personality that makes him
recognizable to the public most experienced. The interpretation of
standard is made famous with creativity and through many classic
have characterized a given period. For example, the first CD
Blue Monk eponymous pianist, Cantaloupe Island
Herbie Hancock and a classic Dixieland which China Boy.
The quartet of Selwin is being done with a good job on the harmonies of
base and can do proprii these standards, all with the basics
in the mainstream, but in reality very different from each other. yet
works, one might say, because the imagination and technique come together
and Amalga and what box is a work of great homogeneity
deserves to go out of national boundaries.
They are all live recordings. The trio accompaniment is
composed by Paul Sawtell on piano, Bill Coleman on bass and Tony
Richards on drums, all musicians usually used to
accompany American stars when I'm on tour in Europe or the UK. A rhythm in which the concept of swing is obvious and it does great!


01/03/2013 Bruce Lee Gallanter

This is more of a straight ahead jazz session than I usually
review but no less creative. This is Esmond Sylwyn's fourth date for
the Slam label and the second one with his quartet. Most of the songs
here are standards. I listened to a wealth of more mainstream jazz in
the seventies when I first got into jazz and was studying its long
history. After a few decades of ignoring it, I've been again checking
out a variety of of more inside musicians and sessions. Considering
that I am not familiar with any of the members of this quartet, I
must admit that they are pretty amazing. Right from the gitgo on
"Fine and Dandy" the quartet is off and swinging furious with smoking
solos from all four members of this great quartet. Considering what
little recognition Mr. Selwyn has garnered here, I an astonished by
each of his solos on this long two disc set. He is just incredible.
Both he and Mr. Sawtell on piano are gifted musicians and sound
wonderful throughout, sometimes trading lines with immense craft and
passion. There are a few standouts here like "Blue Monk" (by
Thelonius Monk), Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island" and Miles
Davis' "All Blues". Nothing like an unknown legend to get those
blindfold test fans guessing. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery


01/03/2013 Vittorio Lo Conte

Nell´area mainstream di solito i musicisti europei che non vanno negli
USA hanno problemi a farsi conoscere fuori dai confini nazionali. È un
fenomeno diffuso, come dimostra questo disco del chitarrista inglese Esmond Selwin.
La sua è una tecnica sopraffina che deriva dai grandi della chitarra
come Tal Farlow o Joe Pass, con un tocco di personalità che lo rende
riconoscibile per il pubblico più smaliziato. L´interpretazione di
standard famosi è fatta con inventiva, passando per molti classici che
hanno caratterizzato un determinato periodo. Ad esempio dal primo CD
Blue Monk dell´omonimo pianista, Cantaloupe Island di
Herbie Hancock ed un classico del dixieland quale China Boy.
Il quartetto di Selwin si dà da fare con un bel lavoro sulle armonie di
base e riesce a fare proprii questi standard, tutti con le basi
nell´area mainstream, ma in realtà molto diversi l´uno dall´altro. Eppur
funziona, verrebbe da dire, perchè la fantasia e la tecnica si uniscono
e si amalgano e quel che spunta è un lavoro di grande omogeneità che
merita di uscire dai confini nazionali.
Sono tutte registrazioni dal vivo. Il trio di accompagnamento è
costituito da Paul Sawtell al piano, Bill Coleman al contrabbasso e Tony
Richards alla batteria, tutti musicisti di solito usi ad
accompagnare le
star americane quando sono in tour in Europa o in UK. Una ritmica in cui il concetto di swing è scontato e che lo fa alla grande!

Vittorio Lo Conte http://www.musiczoom.it/?p=11992

In mainstream jazz, European artists who choose not to move to the US struggle to become widely known outside of the countries where they operate. This is the case for the album of English guitarist Esmond Selwyn. Esmond's exquisite technique draws from guitar greats such as Tal Farlow Usually and Joe Pass, and adds a personality which creates a sound that is recognisable to the discerning listener.
Popular standards are here re-interpreted creatively, spanning many classics which marked different eras. Some remarkable examples are Thelonious Monk's Blue Monk, Hancock's Cantaloupe Island or the Dixieland classic China Boy.
Selwyn's quartet works hard to revise the basic harmonies, and give the tunes an identity of their own, all within mainstream jazz (do they mean "straight ahead"?), but each track very different from one another.
Yet, one could say, it works: as inspiration and technique merge together, what comes forth is a work of great consistency, which deserves to be recognised outside of its national barriers. All recordings were made live. The accompanying trio is composed of Paul Sawtell on piano, Bill Coleman on double bass, and Tony Richards on drums, all of them used to tour Europe in the UK with the greatest American stars. For such a rhythm section, the concept of swing is taken for granted, and is splendidly delivered!
Vittorio Lo Conte


26/02/2013 Dr Brandon Bernstein

Esmond Selwyn, considered by many to be among the top jazz guitar players in the UK, has released a new quartet CD Called Renegade. The CD includes Esmond on guitar, Paul Sawtell on keyboards, Bill Coleman on bass and Tony Richards on drums. The album is a two CD live recording of jazz standards. Esmond and his quartet offer a fresh approach to these classics. Personally, I always love listening to jazz musicians who add their personal artistic interpretation to standards, making them seem like their own . Esmond does this well on Renegade. The sound quality is excellent. I would have never known that it was a live recording except for the applause in the background. One advantage of recording live is that musicians often take more chances and 'stretch' out over the form of each song. This typically leads to longer and more developed solos and a bit more risk-taking by the soloist. When the band is as good as this one, it is very exciting to hear them play live. From the very beginning of the CD I was impressed with the musicality and skill of all the musicians. They all listen to one another and complement each other beautifully. This was my first introduction to Esmond Selwyn's music and I will now be a life long fan. Esmond's guitar playing showcases his impeccable technique and virtuosity. Esmond is undoubtedly a master of his instrument. Renegade is an amazing, high-energy, traditional jazz recording.


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