Roger Marks’ Brass Farthings With Pete Allen: Higher Ground

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Experienced and versatile, Roger seems equally at home in either a traditional or mainstream setting. These quartet recordings, somewhat akin to a small New Orleans street band in instrumentation, are in established British traditional style.

The approach is lively and entertaining, with interesting and unhackneyed touches in the simple but effective arrangements. New Orleans popular standards rub shoulders with some very unexpected tunes, reflecting Roger’s refreshingly eclectic approach to repertoire: It Happened In Monterey, Star Of The County Down, (punctuated with hand-clap breaks) and La Vie En Rose are hardly traditional jazz standards.

Pete Allen’s solo feature revives the pleasantly strolling An Ordinary Copper (theme tune for the old TV series Dixon Of Dock Green). In an equally diverting wander off the beaten track, Roger effectively dusts off the old tear-jerker Answer Me.

There’s no trumpet (apart from a useful contribution in Streets Of The City from sousa player Dave Holdsworth); nor is one missed, given Roger’s confident, fluent and melodic lead.

Pete Allen’s energetic and full-toned clarinet gives spirited and ideally matched accompaniment. With no piano or drums, the banjo and sousa bond well to lay down trusty support. Pete Sumner picks his way adroitly through his original Jules Rag in a deserved solo feature.

The session was completed in five hours, and obviously enjoyed by the musicians, with comfortable rapport and positive colourful solos from the front horns. Unpretentious, happy listening from seasoned practitioners.

Discography
Lady Of Spain; It Happened In Monterey; Maori Farewell; C’est Ci Bon; (2) An Ordinary Copper; (1) Star Of The County Down; Trouble In Mind; Higher Ground; (3) Answer Me; (1) Old Rugged Cross; (4) Jules’ Rag; (1) Kentucky Home; (5) Streets Of The City; (1) La Vie En Rose; White Cliffs Of Dover (59.34)
(1) Marks (tb, v); Pete Allen (cl, v, bar); Pete Sumner (bj, v); Dave Holdsworth (bb).
(2) as (1), omit Marks; (3) as (1), omit Allen; (4) as (1) Sumner (bj); Holdsworth (bb, t). Plymouth, 29 October 2018.
Upbeat URCD 290