Lightly swinging straightahead modern-mainstream jazz such as My Point of Reference often gets overlooked by its very nature. It is no longer flavour of the month. And so pianist Basil Hodge is still not that well-known beyond the cognoscenti of the style partly because of this. His discography includes the collectable 2003 release again on Zeal My Guardian Angel that includes the great UK drummer Seb Rochford in the band so it's always worth being alert when a new record of Hodge's comes along.
And yet it has been so long since the last one, 2009's Sound Reasoning. This sighting makes A Point of Reference notable and hopefully Hodge can gig it next year. Small point I'd query whether including however stately a version of 1940s classic 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square' which can make a record dated unless it is radically refurbished in the arrangement is a good idea especially because it is played fairly straight here. That personal taste matter aside hard bop saxophonist Ed Jones, who was very well-known on the UK scene in the 1980s and 90s, makes his presence felt and plays well here while Winston Clifford heard this year impressively with Camilla George back in the summer steers the ship in a confident fashion. Clifford is a fine drummer whose profile unfathomably again isn't as high as it used to be. If you heard this band in a club in a relaxed setting you'd be delighted. But I'm not sure if its easy-going nature and Hodge is not a demonstrative player inclined to dare I say tinkle decorously more than most makes the transfer completely successfully to represent a challenging listening experience anyway. And yet there is plenty of musicianship to take in and tunes such as 'Back to Where It Came From' show a willingness to escape the comforting surrounds of melody and conventional paraphrase a bit more and experiment with metre partly enabled by Hodge when he switches to Rhodes. The bassist on the record is Oli Hayhurst and pick of the tracks are 'Common Ground' and the lilting 'Port Louis.'