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Into the Blue
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Guy Barker was the first British jazz artist to be signed by Verve's international department to be promoted world-wide. This 1995 album was his first release under that contract and, while subsequent albums have been equally good, there is a special sense of occasion about this one. The band is an international affair, too, featuring Icelandic saxophonist Sigurdur Flosason and Italian pianist Bernardo Sassetti, along with bassist Alec Dankworth, drummer Ralph Salmins and Barker himself on trumpet. Unlike most contemporary trumpeters, whose audible influences begin with Clifford Brown or Miles Davis, Barker is a player with a remarkable breadth of reference. It is easy to detect from his playing that an early influence was the Ellington cornettist Rex Stewart (in fact, one piece here is entitled "Oh, Mr Rex!"). His repertoire of Stewart-style half- valve and other "dirty" effects imparts a wonderfully varied texture to his improvisations, especially when contrasted with the clear, sunny tones derived from another of his favourites, Bix Beiderbecke. For all that, he remains a thoroughly modern player, always alert to new developments and possibilities. --Dave Gelly
Top Customer Reviews
The album is an impressive, straight-ahead, no-nonsense affair delivering a good dose of high calibre post-bop playing; there are 10 tracks on the CD which has a run-time of just over 63 mins.
The quintet consists of three Brits; Barker on trumpet, Alec Dankworth - bass, Ralph Salmins - drums, Icelandic altoist Sigurdur Flosason and Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti.
1. Into the Blue
3. Oh, Mr. Rex!
4. Low Down Lullaby
5. Did It "N" Did It
6. The Sphinx
8. Ill Wind
9. This is the Life
10. Weather Bird Rag
The majority of the compositions are originals - five written by Barker; most impressive is the tour-de-force tribute to Rex Stuart (track 3) with Barker displaying his range of growls, smears, half-valved notes and fancy mute-work, emulating the great cornetist and alluding to Stuart's often Dixieland flavoured style with an evocative marching-band rhythm.
"The Sphinx" is an Ornette Coleman number with a typically folksy, drawn-out theme; it makes a refreshing contrast, though the band choose to eschew Ornette`s shuffling pulse style in favour of a fast regular beat.
The album signs off with a trumpet/bass version of the Armstrong/Hines classic "Weather Bird Rag".
A fine album by an excellent quintet and a good showcase for it`s leader's talents.
Just a quintet this time: GB (tpt), sigurdur Flosason (alto), Bernardo Sassetti (p), Alex Dankworth (b) and Ralph Salmins (d), although the final number "Weatherbird Rag" is a tpt / bass duet.
Although "weatherbird rag" may date back to circa 1926, this is an album of bop inspired modern jazz many tunes having been written by Guy Barker. There is a superb tune inspired by the playing of the Duke Ellington trumpet star of the 1930s: Rex Stewart ("Oh Mr Rex") lasting over ten minutes. The music is accessible and engaging and provides plenty of entertainment.
Guy Barker is a trumpet player of remarkable facility. His tone is excellent. Therefore there is a tendancy for the tunes to be a showcase for his remarkable skills, however he is matched by his choice of colleagues all of whom are masters of their own instruments. A great little band.
All together a fine album, so why not five stars? I have given 5 stars for some of Guy's other albums, but one must compare the content of this album with the output on CD elsewhere and I think that there are albums more deserving. Nevertheless this album is well worth purchasing....and playing and listening to!