Clark Tracey Quintet, Introducing Emily Masser, Strayhorn Records ***

A bright new jazz vocals talent here on the UK scene in Emily Masser whose optimistic vocals are exuberantly backed by the Art Blakey-like rumble and roll of the Clark Tracey quintet. Masser is in her early twenties and a student at the Guildhall …

Published: 23 Jan 2024. Updated: 35 days.

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A bright new jazz vocals talent here on the UK scene in Emily Masser whose optimistic vocals are exuberantly backed by the Art Blakey-like rumble and roll of the Clark Tracey quintet. Masser is in her early twenties and a student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has a clear feel for bebop and feelgood swinging lines. Bassist James Owston bounces the sound along nicely and there are some fine breakout sax solos from Alex Clarke while the line-up is completed by pianist Graham Harvey. Tunes include evergreens such as 'The Man I Love' led off in sprightly fashion by Harvey and 'I'm Old Fashioned'. There's a well picked choice for heritage Britjazz fans in a version of Jimmy Deuchar's 'Suddenly Last Tuesday'. Masser's voice reminds me a little of Emily Dankworth, Emma Smith and perhaps even Annie Ross (on the fun opener Bobby Watson's 'A Bitta Bittadose'). SG. Out in March - a couple of tracks are streaming on Bandcamp

Tags: reviews

Randy Napoleon, The Door Is Open, OA2 ****

Just as sleek and super swinging as I remember guitarist Randy Napoleon playing live in London with the late Freddy Cole back in 2010, here in the studio playing the music of Gregg Hill in the company of the core band of pianist Rick Roe, bassist …

Published: 23 Jan 2024. Updated: 34 days.

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Just as sleek and super swinging as I remember guitarist Randy Napoleon playing live in London with the late Freddy Cole back in 2010, here in the studio playing the music of Gregg Hill in the company of the core band of pianist Rick Roe, bassist Rodney Whitaker, drummer Quincy Davis and singer Aubrey Johnson who adds a ghostly top note coat to opener the slow 'April Song' which says a lot about this record: it takes its time and makes it point. The vocals blend well with the ensemble play. On five of the tunes Napoleon adds three horns, trombonist Andrew Kim, saxist Walter Blanding and trumpeter Anthony Stanco, a decision that gives the album a lot more depth than it might have otherwise have had if pared back to the bone. 'Motel Blues,' with its Wes Montgomery-like character, I liked most along with the duetting with Johnson on 'Skyline'. Both these tunes have lyrics by Napoleon. An album perfect for anyone intro American mainstream and straightahead sounds and above all connoisseur level jazz in-the-tradition guitar playing and tunes that punch above their weight. SG

Out on 23 February