Bruno Heinen and James Kitchman, Rain Shadows, Ubuntu ***1/2

The main thing apparent is the high quality of the writing featuring a small version of the First Quartet band that gelled so very well last year. So, pianist Bruno Heinen - one of the very best jazz pianists in the UK at the very highest level …

Published: 15 Mar 2023. Updated: 15 days.

The main thing apparent is the high quality of the writing featuring a small version of the First Quartet band that gelled so very well last year. So, pianist Bruno Heinen - one of the very best jazz pianists in the UK at the very highest level technically and artistically - superb with The W on record in recent times in duo with the fast rising guitarist James Kitchman - the less prog-inclined so far anyway Chris Montague of his generation perhaps if one would be so audacious to risk comparison.

Rain Shadows corresponds to the way Heinen worked with another guitarist, the Dane Kristian Borring, on their very fine Postcard to Bill Evans permeated by the sound of Jim Hall and the genius of Plainfield. This is not themed in the same way at all. However, the mood music and sensibility are remarkably similar although the style is far less impressionistic and more 1970s bucolic jazz American.

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Kitchman tune 'Rain Shadows' - the title track - has intervallic leaps, a salty clash, maybe a slightly unorthodox guitar tuning - in any case the main idea is deftly resolved. Heinen's 'Snowed in With Cedar Walton' is the most familiar of these pieces - it is on The W's Kings Place EP linked to below and is a significant piece. 'Warm Valley' with what sounds like Northumbrian or similar folk music grace note dots in the guitar inflections has the exactitude of a close study but contains a looser atmosphere that sits well with the quite different world of the late Mick Goodrick. Certainly work by Goodrick was a go-to destination when listening time to Rain Shadows ended. Worth investigating. Out on 26 May

The full Kitchman First Quartet line-up - K, H + double bassist Tom McCredie & drummer Shaney Forbes play POSK, Hammersmith on Friday night - click for tickets

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James Kitchman and Bruno Heinen, photo: Phelan Burgoyne/Ubuntu

Tags: reviews

Standard focus - Walter Bishop Jr quartet playing Willow Weep For Me

This week in Standard Focus spurred on by hearing a track from the upcoming archival Cory Weeds and Zev Feldman produced release that sets the tone winningly for Bish at the Bank: Live in Baltimore (Cellar Live, a 21 April release) is via thrilling …

Published: 15 Mar 2023. Updated: 15 days.

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This week in Standard Focus spurred on by hearing a track from the upcoming archival Cory Weeds and Zev Feldman produced release that sets the tone winningly for Bish at the Bank: Live in Baltimore (Cellar Live, a 21 April release) is via thrilling edge of the seat visceral soprano playing from Brother Jack McDuff player Harold Vick the fabric of it all anchored by the superb comping of Walter Bishop Jr (1927-1998) on 'Willow Weep For Me' - the Bish the pianist who was on Miles Davis' Dig (Prestige, 1951 - nb Newk is also on that classic) and Jackie McLean's Capuchin Swing (Blue Note, 1960).

The 11 minute-plus instrumental version acts as a reset and new way into the tune.

Our favourite version of the luminous 1930s Ann Ronell tearjerker remains Dexter Gordon's on Our Man in Paris (Blue Note, 1963) - long tall Dexter playing tenor in that treatment with Bud Powell, Klook - Kenny Clarke, often seen in bebop parlance as the originator of the ''bomb'' and ''klook-a-mop'' sounds that are defining elements of bebop - and Pierre Michelot.

The Bishop combination's treatment came a few years later recording live at The Famous Ballroom in 1967. The Cellar Live release also includes numbers rendered at another Baltimore spot, The Madison Club, from the previous year.

A few years earlier Ray Charles had covered the song and even more contemporaneously Lena Horne and Nancy Wilson. On the instrumental side, more a good juxtaposition here, Lucky Thompson released a treatment in 1965 on the Lucky Is Back! (then, so is love) Rivoli release because Vick's sound although far more keening and wild is in keeping with Lucky's extraordinary prowess on the soprano, accompanied on Lucky is Back by Tommy Flanagan (who had earlier made jazz history with Trane on Giant Steps) twinklingly on celeste at the beginning.

Walter Bishop Jr, photo: detail from the Bish at the Bank: Live in Baltimore cover art

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