Just to prove how durable and timeless jazz is, the Fishwick/Garnett unit have produced an LP with contemporary flavours but essentially it is the much-loved hard bop that flourished and came of age in the mid- to late 1950s. If the unit sounds as modern and fresh as a pint of today’s milk, that is because it is; these players have performed in various jazz ensembles and styles over the years and are sounding as good as ever on a set of original lines penned by the joint leaders.
The opening track, “The Wrath of Karn” is a very sprightly piece that features bright solos from the two front men but is mainly a feature for bassist Michael Karn and drummer Matt Fishwick. Both provide well-structured solos and keep the momentum moving all through. “Marshian Time Slip” is a variation of “All the Things You Are”, fabricated into an original bop line, much as Bird and Diz used to do it in the beginning.
“52nd Street Dream” is a ballad tempo melody with boppish overtones, again as they used to do it way back when, although slow tempi was never a speciality of the original boppers. This one is dedicated to Ronnie Scott, who opened the first UK club to feature modern jazz exclusively, inspired by his 1959 visit to 52nd Street in Manhattan. “Kaftan” is a solid swinger again focusing on solid bop alto and trumpet solos carried along by a tough but sympathetic rhythm duo.
It is more of the same thing on side 2 of this well-recorded disc, made for the appropriately named Hard Bop Records. All eight tracks are played with dedication to the hard bop ethos, all originals and all without piano. The solos are crisp and clear, the rhythm section tight but flexible where it needs to be and the music manages to be both contemporary and right in the hard bop groove at the same time. A much better playing time than the old LPs used to offer is now possible and this sterling session runs for 49-44 minutes without strain.
The Wrath of Karn; Marshian Time Slip; 52nd Street Dream; Kaftan; Rio de Ron; Primitis; The Creep; Lickeroo (49.44)
Fishwick (t, flh); Garnett (as); Michael Karn (b); Matt Fishwick (d). Caerphilly, 24 November 2016.
Hard Bop Records 33011 (vinyl)