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: 8 months.

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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New label PX set to issue Pizza Express Live in London recordings

Beginning with the Scott Hamilton Quartet's At Pizza Express Live in London, PX is a new Pizza Express record label to issue recordings drawn from their creation in the restaurant chain's live London music venues Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho, …

Published: 15 Mar 2023. Updated: 8 months.

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Beginning with the Scott Hamilton Quartet's At Pizza Express Live in London, PX is a new Pizza Express record label to issue recordings drawn from their creation in the restaurant chain's live London music venues Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho, Pizza Express Live in Holborn and The Pheasantry in Chelsea. The idea is to release albums from both new artists and established acts spanning jazz and soul plus vintage releases from the venues' archives.

Long time popular draw at the Soho club US tenor saxophone eminence Scott Hamilton is joined for this upcoming release by his revered longstanding UK band of pianist John Pearce, double bassist Dave Green and drummer Steve Brown who have been playing together for two decades.

Hamilton's history with the Dean Street club goes back even further because he has been playing Pizza Express for 40 years - the majority of the basement club's lifetime. The club opened in 1975 and in the 1990s expanded in size.

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Ross Dines, above in the club office: photo marlbank, speaking to us on the phone, explained that the label will release ''a few'' recordings each year. The span will be ''diverse but not too eclectic''. A long-time music manager for the chain, Dines, a sound engineer by training, will be A&Ring, Tim Debney of Fluid Mastering is doing the mastering when needed. ''Some acts will have done the mastering themselves,'' Ross explains. And the formats that PX will issue under are streaming/download, CD and vinyl. The music from the releases, he says, will then be played over the PA at the chain's 400 restaurants. Physical distribution is by the Kent based Proper while Absolute Label Services will take care of digital and Music Glue ecommerce.

Liner notes for the initial release are by the music team's Joseph Paice while Ross defers to saxophone icon of the UK scene Dave O'Higgins for ''sound advice, great ears and understanding'' and explains how he has visited Dave and Dave's wife - the saxophone playing forensic pathologist Judith - in their studio ''geeking out'' over different mics. Ross had pitched the idea of PX to the chain's board dwelling on the ''exciting value proposition'' of the venture who then greenlighted the project.

The cover of the Scott Hamilton Quartet's At Pizza Express Live in London (above) - detail from the cover art, top. Scott Hamilton returns to The Pizza Express Jazz Club in London for a 5-10 April residency. Click for details

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