Warren Vache/Alan Barnes

 

The Cobbler’s Waltz

Jazz musicians will concede that a studio is often an unforgiving place, a sort of colourless Eden, where sensitive souls metaphorically view themselves in an unflattering light.

Why is this? Loneliness and isolation is exacerbated by the suspicion that the freedom to improvise is considerably reduced.

These are not my thoughts, but those of cornetist and vocalist Warren Vache on the eve of recording eleven tracks with a quintet of stellar musicians, including, on clarinet, alto and baritone sax, Alan Barnes.

The offspring of their week long labour, The Cobbler’s Waltz, is something of a rare egg: the majority of the tracks were done in one take. The chemistry in the studio transfers seamlessly to the CD.

For the listener, the accomplishment of listening to two veterans like Vache and Barnes literally operating from the same hymn sheet is scintillating.

The Cobbler’s Waltz is bookended by the bluesy Swingin Til the Girls Get Home by Oscar Pettiford and the valedictory We’ll Be Together Again.

In between, the emphasis is on gaiety and frivolity, with A Man With a Million Dollars (a groaning and delightful vocal from Vache) and Too Phat Blues epitomising the spirit of the occasion.

Outstanding musicianship unfolds throughout, with graceful sax from Barnes and piano from John Pearce on Tuesdayscool, a Vache number which allows Steve Brown on drums and Dave Green on double bass to let rip.

Vache is the first to admit that occasionally a band gets lucky laying down tracks, and a minor miracle occurs with the luminous The Very Thought of You, again with wonderful and restrained bass by Green, around which Barnes’ clarinet adds finishing touches.

If I had to single out one track where the imperturbable approach of Barnes and Vache reaps alchemical dividends, it would be a toss between a glorious interpretation of Ben Webster’s Walkin’ the Frog or Just A Mood, awash with clarinet overdubbing and another Green solo. Put away your weed, and listen to The Cobbler’s Waltz instead

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