Andrew McCormack, Terra Firma, Ubuntu ***

Rod Youngs, Andrew McCormack, Joe Downard. Photo: press One of the best gigs last year was by the JT4. The pianist in that quartet led by Jean Toussaint was Andrew McCormack whose career has always rewarded keeping tabs on since 2006's Telescope …

Published: 31 Oct 2022. Updated: 36 days.

Andrew-McCormack-Trio

Rod Youngs, Andrew McCormack, Joe Downard. Photo: press

One of the best gigs last year was by the JT4. The pianist in that quartet led by Jean Toussaint was Andrew McCormack whose career has always rewarded keeping tabs on since 2006's Telescope when the pianist was an unknown.

How he links with the present crop of London scene pianists stylistically is by turning to the sound of Joe Armon-Jones when in more acoustic jazzhead guise as Armon-Jones is in Andrew's lineage something that struck us listening to Armon-Jones playing the music of A Love Supreme with Gary Crosby back in 2015 before Armon-Jones' career took off with Ezra Collective.

Terra Firma with Rod Youngs - a link to that Armon-Jones, Baptiste, Crosby 2015 occasion on the South Bank - is very understated and has a sprinking of very well-known tunes to hand. 'Dear Old Stockholm' and Sting's much covered 'Fragile' for instance make the cut.

Tunes by McCormack who can play avant or middle of the road mainstream as easily as lapping mother's milk are intricate but accessible. Youngs gives his all as usual and adds pace, his biggest and best quality. On Monk's 'Work' the Washingtonian makes his presence felt while bassist Joe Downard calls up the sound of Tim Thornton somehow because like Tim essentially he is tonally deft and swinging.

Catch the McCormack trio at the Pizza tomorrow night

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Alex Acuña, Gifts, Le Coq ****

No one has total recall. We only recall bits of things even if a memory monster. But sometimes a tiny motif in a tune is enough to unlock the code. But in a 7 minute long jazz track what are you going to remember? Anything more than nothing is a …

Published: 31 Oct 2022. Updated: 36 days.

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No one has total recall. We only recall bits of things even if a memory monster. But sometimes a tiny motif in a tune is enough to unlock the code. But in a 7 minute long jazz track what are you going to remember? Anything more than nothing is a plus. So many records are forgettable. Not Gifts released last month. At its heart are some classic tunes from the larder that you might think you have heard enough of already but not the case at all. What is memorable here includes the electric guitar break-out on 'Mercy Mercy, Mercy' (Ramón Stagnaro), the pitch perfect trumpet-playing on 'Amandote' (Michael Stever), a cool cello line on 'Divina' (Giovanna Clayton) - and that incredible chunky Alex Acuña substantialness that the Weather Report icon brings to the groove whether on drums or percussion. A sound that stamps itself on to the consciousness immediately you'd think only the throwaway catchinesss of pop music can but this turns that dubious notion on its head. If Acuña isn't your guru even if 50 years late to the party since his heyday meet your new guv. Proof from a master that it's too late to stop now - and never too late as a jazz listener to truly begin.