Nick Weldon, usually thought of first as a pianist but here playing bass, has long been a part of the British scene. But even his longevity is surpassed by that of two of his colleagues on Eleven Flames in the shape of Art Themen and Trevor Tomkins, both of whom acquit themselves admirably throughout the 11 tracks. The former is his normal quirky self which singles him out amongst home-grown saxophonists, the latter able to break it up when necessary or swing firmly as the moment demands.
Vocals come courtesy of the leader’s partner Andra Sparks, who on occasion reverts to a flattish delivery which lends itself suitably to some of the material but seems inappropriate elsewhere. Overall the programme is an interesting one but some potential listeners might have a problem with the Weldon original Bulimia which is described as “a poignant tale of someone’s passionate love affair with the affliction that is killing them”. A good guess is that the lyric would split any given audience.
Otherwise we get some recognisable melodies, a couple not obvious choices for a contemporary-based group plus a duo of Monk themes – Evidence and Ask Me Now – integral to two more compositions penned by the leader.
There are also plenty of bold statements from the relatively youthful trumpeter Jurd, currently receiving plenty of positive press, and Nikki Iles, always a pleasingly reliable presence within any line-up: needless to say, Mr. W. takes care of business admirably on this release from his own label.
Where You Are; Baby, Don’t You Quit Now; Weaver Of Dreams; Justice Song; One Kiss; It’s Crazy; How I Wish/Ask Me Now; Bulimia; I Feed A Flame Within; Georgia; Hushabye Mountain (67.32)
Laura Jurd (t); Art Themen (ss); Nikki Iles (p); Nick Weldon (b); Trevor Tomkins (d); Andra Sparks (v). 2018.