Miquel Álvarez, La Base (EP), Own label ***

With the added flamenco-like hand-claps on the opener there is a distinctly Spanish flavour added in the mix. Yet for repertoire and in the detailed hard bop lapidary lines from altoist Perico Sambeat especially, one of Europe's greatest players …

Published: 1 Dec 2021. Updated: 8 months.

With the added flamenco-like hand-claps on the opener there is a distinctly Spanish flavour added in the mix. Yet for repertoire and in the detailed hard bop lapidary lines from altoist Perico Sambeat especially, one of Europe's greatest players for many years who used to play regularly at Ronnie Scott's going back to Pete King's time in the club, it does not stray too far from US jazz with one notable detour. The record is actually led by bassist Miquel Álvarez who provides a stately reverberant underpinning throughout. Flavoured with the trumpet playing of Will Mallard who comes into his own on classic Kenny Dorham opener 'Lotus Blossom' (also known as 'Asiatic Raes' to distinguish it better from the very different Billy Strayhorn classic of the same name) La Base is really only an EP given the lengths of the five pieces but there's plenty to get stuck in to here. Indulge yourself especially in the band's likeable version of Horace Silver's 'The Jody Grind' and its perennially feelgoodness.

Covering Charles Trenet 1940s song 'I Wish You Love' (eg 'Que reste-t-il de nos amours?') first covered in the 1940s in the silky croon of Roland Gerbeau is the detour referred to above and big bass feature, lovable of course, it says it on the tin, but the least essential of the tracks. SG

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Alex Riel, Bo Stief and Carsten Dahl, Our Songs, Storyville ****

A Danish piano trio here. It's a record for the connoisseurs of the genre with a twist. Spanning generations there's great chemistry and if you're a Monica Zetterlund fan (one of the few singers other than Tony Bennett, Lucy Reed, Helen Merrill and …

Published: 30 Nov 2021. Updated: 8 months.

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A Danish piano trio here. It's a record for the connoisseurs of the genre with a twist. Spanning generations there's great chemistry and if you're a Monica Zetterlund fan (one of the few singers other than Tony Bennett, Lucy Reed, Helen Merrill and Mark Murphy with whom Bill Evans recorded) then the presence of Zetterlund drummer Alex Riel here is very enticing.

The pianist Carsten Dahl does Keith Jarrett more than justice (the album title riffs on Jarrett composition 'My Song' which opens the album) even doing that nasal vocalising sound sometimes like Keith and rhapsodises brilliantly on 'Giant Steps'. Bass legend Bo Stief anchors the whole thing which is a very loving journeying through standards, the bass is very warmly captured (and you must hear his solo on stunning Dahl original 'The Poet'), some Swedish melancholia, which is the twist referred to earlier, and originals. The standards work best of all. An album that sends you to places you may not often go to any more and certainly back to the 1978 release and Jarrett classic My Song because the trio distil simple statement but also find all the hidden meaning in between the lines which is at the heart of the art of the trio ethic itself after all. SG

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