Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Nicki Leighton-Thomas, One Good Scandal, 33 Jazz ****

Songs, lyrics, the persuasiveness of the story-telling Nicki Leighton-Thomas voice, fine tenor work from Dave O'Higgins whose purple patch these last few years continues and very good on a 2022 release with Matt Bianco, very clean recording …

Published: 2 Oct 2022. Updated: 21 months.

Songs, lyrics, the persuasiveness of the story-telling Nicki Leighton-Thomas voice, fine tenor work from Dave O'Higgins whose purple patch these last few years continues and very good on a 2022 release with Matt Bianco, very clean recording quality, kinetic guitar sonics. Landesmanian pianist quondam Oxcentrics tinkler in his salad days Simon Wallace, O'Hig, trumpeter Steve Waterman, bassist Alec Dankworth, drummer Roy Dodds and guitarist Paul Stacey are in the personnel. Waterman takes a pingingly pure starting solo call on 'Depravity'. A jazz cabaret supper club sort of setting is natural terroir if you imagined any of this live preferably in a set starting at about quarter to eleven in the evening the way Ronnie's used to operate before Sally Greene took over when the main act went on after several usually enjoyable hours of build-up. And that would be perfect in however earlier the way today Crazy Coqs, the Pheasantry and the Dean Street Pizza time things. Certainly the sensibility crosses over from the stage or the pages of a Fay Weldon or a Patricia Highsmith novel transposed from the Landesman core given the tough, not giving a stuff, vibrancy of the moods Leighton-Thomas conveys especially taking on the mantle of a femme fatale on the sambafied 'Overture to Corrupt and Deprave' to the jazz club without any loss in translation at all.

The swinging treatment of Tommy Wolf and Fran Landesman's 'This Little Love Of Ours' and Wallace and Landesman's 'The Girl You Can't Forget' roused us most. Above all what a grown-up, literary, sensual and authoritative return to the recording studio from Leighton-Thomas who remains a mysterious presence on the UK jazz scene and that mystery tantalises that bit more. Linger long.

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Benjamin Lackner, Circular Confidence, ECM ****

Track of the day for a second time: we keep going back to the track: the unique touch of famed French drummer Manu Katché lifts the interest here significantly on a plangent ballad the melody led by the fine Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick. …

Published: 2 Oct 2022. Updated: 21 months.

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Track of the day for a second time: we keep going back to the track: the unique touch of famed French drummer Manu Katché lifts the interest here significantly on a plangent ballad the melody led by the fine Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick. German-American pianist Benjamin ''Benny'' Lackner is classy but a little anonymous in his soloing at first. That changes rapidly journeying into a Wasilewskian universe a world that Katché knows well however as the piece unfolds the interest certainly enhanced by the harmonic detail provided by French bassist Jérôme Regard. And so eventually the hypnotic appeal of the dreamy trumpet line on top achieves a certain convincing melancholia.

Lackner was born in Berlin in 1976 and moved to the US in his early teens before returning to Germany in the late-2000s. He's had a trio for two decades involving Regard here. The full record Last Decade from which this introductory piece is drawn and Lackner's first for the label consisting largely of his own originals is out in mid-October. We'll bring you a full album review on release.

The Benjamin Lackner quartet l-r Mathias Eick, Benjamin Lackner, Manu Katché, Jérôme Regard. Photo: bennylackner.com