This is a feel-good record, a sort of back to basics LP played with the sounds of today. Kofi wanted to pay homage to his first and as it turned out, main inspiration and he has done so here in style. It was recorded live at the Bear Club in Luton and the audience response throughout will tell you how successful the musicians were.
Tony kicks off the set with A Portrait Of Cannonball, playing at white hot intensity and the rhythm section whips him along joyfully. Vitale, on drums is a hard driver, particularly impressive on uptempo pieces. Andrew Cleyndert, one of the UK’s very best bass players, is with him all the way. Andy Davies plays lithe lines on trumpet and pianist Webb is an inventive third soloist although he is mostly busy comping in the section.
This quintet was obviously up for this gig and they play with obvious enjoyment from first note to last. Tony is an individual soloist with his own sound and style although he plays in a more vibrant and expansive manner on this dedication to one of his heroes. Full of old-style bop, blues and compulsive swing, it produces the sound of modern jazz in the classic hard bop manner but with plenty of contemporary flourishes.
This sound and commitment to one of the master stylists is rarely heard today on record but it is a vital jazz component. Kofi’s expansive tone – blues-based and swing-dedicated – carries the entire band, but all are competent with plenty to offer in solo strength. Stars Fell On Alabama is a ballad highlight with a mixture of pure Kofi and vintage Cannonball styling. Things Are Getting Better is notable for some tasty blues licks where Tony slides easily onto a long note and holds it skilfully. Cleyndert gets a long, inventive solo on this one. The final blues performances, Sack O Woe, and Work Song bring the gig to a rousing conclusion.
A Portrait Of Cannonball; Operation Breadbasket; Another Kind Of Soul; Stars Fell On Alabama; Things Are Getting Better; Sack O Woe; Work Song (36.33)
Kofi (as); Andy Davies (t); Alex Webb (p); Andrew Cleyndert (b); Alfonso Vitale (d). Bear Club, Luton, 30 November and 1 December 2019.
Last Records LMLP 217