Even though it is set in an exceptionally fertile decade,1959 still stands out as a remarkably fruitful year for Jazz albums.
‘Kind of Blue’, ‘Giant Steps’, ‘Mingus Ah Um’, ‘Thelonious Monk at Town Hall’ and Dave Brubeck’s ‘Time Out’ are all iconic recordings from that year, as is my personal favourite, ‘Art Pepper+11’, in which the the altoist’s quicksilver improvisations are highlighted in Marty Paich’s peerless arrangements of modern jazz standards.
To celebrate my 60th birthday, I wanted to record an album with a similar concept and to ask one of my favourite musicians, trombonist Mark Nightingale, to take on the arranging duties. We decided on a slightly different instrumentation, that all the musicians would be featured as soloists at some point, and that we would choose themes from my birth year -again 1959. I wanted to solo mainly on alto but to also spotlight my ‘doubles’ of clarinet, bass clarinet and baritone on some tracks as Art Pepper had done 60 years earlier on tenor and clarinet. Mark responded immediately, enthusiastically and brilliantly, and within a few weeks I had a collection of wonderful charts all of which displayed his astoundingly fecund imagination in re-thinking completely new takes on these ageless tunes.
All the musicians were our first call choices and we eventually found a day to record when they all had a gap in their busy schedules. Everyone came up with the goods - great section playing, lovely swinging feel and exceptional solos all round. There was also a very happy vibe in the hall that day, which I think has spilled onto the recording. These are all like minded, highly accomplished and individual musicians with a real love of this music and, most important to me, definitely not of the ‘Gloom School’.
As soon as I heard the recent Chris Traves recording of Pete Long’s Jazz Planets Suite, I knew that I wanted to record with him in exactly the same situation - the whole band playing “live” in a concert hall. He really understands how to get that lovely natural sound.
The jazz compositions here will be well known to most jazz listeners - all from classic albums of the period. We also have one standard, Mancini’s ‘Dreamsville’ from the album ‘The Music from Peter Gunn’ and one of the earliest Jobim bossa-nova compositions ‘A Feiicidade’ from the film ‘Black Orpheus’.
Thanks to Mark, all the musicians, and Chris for making my reaching 60 years old feel like a wonderful new beginning!
Alan Barnes April 2019
These arrangements are pure fire, and need to be heard to be believed! Alan himself features on alto and baritone saxes, clarinet and bass clarinet with the rest of the band comprised as follows:
Pat White | trumpet
James Copus | trumpet
Mark Nightingale | trombone
Gordon Campbell | trombone
Howard McGill | alto / woodwinds
Robert Fowler | tenor / woodwinds
Andy Panayi | tenor / woodwinds
Mick Foster | baritone / woodwinds
Robin Aspland | piano
Sam Burgess | bass
Matt Skelton | drums