Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Track of the week: Mark Knopfler, Mr Solomons Said, British Grove ****

We don't often get earworms - oh last time previously was in 2016 and the instrumental 'Blue Bolero' by Abdullah Ibrahim was one hearing it live at the Barbican - but pun intended this new one from The Boy is also knockout - it's a new release …

Published: 23 May 2024. Updated: 25 days.

We don't often get earworms - oh last time previously was in 2016 and the instrumental 'Blue Bolero' by Abdullah Ibrahim was one hearing it live at the Barbican - but pun intended this new one from The Boy is also knockout - it's a new release this time 'Mr Solomons Said' often playlisted in our regular daily top 10 these past, oh, weeks.

Drawn from a pugilistically themed EP issued by Knopfler's label British Grove it's the UK's top jazz drummer Ian 'Ianto' Thomas - the Steve Gadd of the Valleys no less - at the kit that probably hooked us first without consciously knowing it was him first of all beyond hugely liking the song and being transported by the London ''hard pavements'' storyline.

'I'm the eyes and ears and it's great'

The great Geordie guitar icon and singer-songwriter Mark Knopfler (Sultans of Swing, Brothers in Arms, The Long Road) of Dire Straits who has employed great new jazz talent such as trumpeter Tom Walsh in his globetrotting band in recent years is on fine voice.

And the lyrics of this ''jeopardy song'' perhaps you could call it are like a chunky novella weighing in oh at well under 6 and a half minutes - pound for pound a bit of a Marvelous Marvin Hagler of a piece.

Keen bookworm, dear reader? If you dig books like Jake Arnott 1999 classic The Long Firm then steep yourself in this fine song even if it is no way as dark as the incredible Arnott touch but just as deftly and brilliantly told.

'I’m a country lad but I see it too how much it’s got to you, and now you’re slipping down into the shadowlands'

Still game

Basically the protagonist is a retired fighter working - dodgy knee scuppered all that - we don't know doing quite what, for the respected promoter Mr Solomons. The groove shifts, but given the role of the guitar licks from Knopfler and some astute bass from Glenn Worf it is a little gypsy jazz-like in places and there's a deft swung feel from Ianto that feeds in organically. The ''frying pan alley'' refrain has a Ray Charles-like 'Hit the Road Jack' with the subtle backing singer touches and feel to the rhythmical accents.

The plot thickens

'Might have a couple with the corner man'

The story draws in how the protagonist has given up the ring for some Savile Row threads, likes the West End ''showbiz shenanigans''. One of the best bits instrumentally is when beyond the bridge ''Jack'' in the song relates how Daytimes I’ll make the rounds in every caff and every pub in this part of town - there’s a mug or a pug and always someone blathering and there's a subtle shift which eventually leads to the song's humane and slightly open ended conclusion.

'No clapped out punchateer'

The rest of the player personnel includes guitarist Richard Bennett with unobtrusive backing vocals from Emma and Tasmin Topolski plus the Frisellian Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar, Danny Cummings on percussion, Jim Cox on piano and Knopfler's close collaborator and co-producer Guy Fletcher on synths. Sentimental enough for gangsters? Oh yes, that ''heart of gold'' beneath the ''yellow rose'' wins the day - and what, intriguingly, about those losers who make other arrangements? A must. Maybe Knopfler will venture again down the jazz side of the road so brightly some more. But regardless of what's next ''me little Jacky'' - the boat's come in. Mark Knopfler in Ronnie Scott's, photo: Mark Knopfler on X/David Sinclair

Tags: Reviews

New tracks: jazz 10 to start your day

Updated daily - specially selected - the 10 new tracks that you need to stop right now and listen to asap. plus Wednesday's 10 to play again: Awen Ensemble, top: photo: press

Published: 23 May 2024. Updated: 30 days.

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Updated daily - specially selected - the 10 new tracks that you need to stop right now and listen to asap.
plus Wednesday's 10 to play again:

Screenshot 2024-05-22 WednesdayPlaylist

Awen Ensemble, top: photo: press