This studio album debut for major label Sony Music sees London-based pianist Ashley Henry really branching out, drawing on an excellent assembly of talent from the more visible end of the young jazz scene.
This talent includes, but is by no means limited to, flawless soulful vocals from the likes of Judi Jackson and Milton Suggs; sharp hip-hop verses from Sparkz; and the entrancing trumpet whisperings of Theo Crocker. On Battle, Henry is joined by fellow Londoners, the sax and drums duo Binker Golding & Moses Boyd. Poet Joshua Idehen makes an appearance on COLORS, delivering the same impassioned – though softer – spoken-word lyrics that helped ignite Sons of Kemet’s Your Queen Is A Reptile with politically charged rage.
But Beautiful Vinyl Hunter isn’t just a veritable who’s who of a certain sector of the current crop. Henry’s bold energy and deft improvisatory ability makes him a force to be reckoned with, and despite a seemingly endless list, the piano is never drowned out or bogged down by all the additional musicians that feature on the album. This musicianship is best admired on almost unaccompanied tracks such as Cranes (In The Sky), Sunrise, and Pressure.
Henry already established his proficiency as a pianist on 2016’s Ashley Henry’s 5ive, his trio-focused Jazz re:freshed debut. Beautiful Vinyl Hunter – bringing together a whole host of excellent musicians – is a much grander release, a well-deserved triumph.
Star Child; Realisations; Between The Lines; Introspections; COLORS; Cranes (In The Sky); I Still Believe; Elipsis (Interlude); Sunrise; Dark Honey (4TheStorm); Pressure (Instrumental); Ahmed; Lullaby (Rise & Shine); Battle; THE MIGHTY (69.37)
Henry (p); Theo Crocker, Keyon Harrold (t); Binker Golding (s); Ben Marc (b, g, strings); Moses Boyd, Makaya McCraven (d); Judi Jackson, Milton Suggs (v). Date, place not advised.
Sony Music CG, no number supplied