JJ 03/91: Jim Mullen – Into The 90’s

Thirty years ago, Mark Gilbert hailed a record that took Mullen close to the Steps Ahead, Mike Stern and Bob Berg school. First published in Jazz Journal March 1991

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It’s been several years since Scot­land’s answer to Wes Montgom­ery led a record date, but the enterprising new specialist guitar label Six Strings has given Mul­len a platform on which to strut his late 80s fusion stuff. From the writing point of view, Into The 90’s (sic) finds Mullen close to the Steps Ahead/Mike Stern/Bob Berg school and some distance from the warm, bluesy r’n’b sen­sibility he embraced with Morrissey-Mullen and on his early 80s Thumbs Up album. The material’s vintage is betrayed in particular by the use of guitar synth to mimic the Harmon-muted Miles on Houdini.

However, when he’s blowing on his unadorned Telecaster, Jim is his old self; even the Scofield licks he sported in the mid-80s have disappeared and the fam­iliar Cornell Dupree through Wes sound has reasserted itself, no more than on the son-of-Killer Joe 606 Theme.

I believe this is also the record debut for Mornington Lockett, one of London’s most capable but least sung young tenorists; he’s still much in the shade of Brecker, but creative with it, as exemplied by his well-paced work on Absent and Hip-Hoperation. Robin Aspland is another fine local talent, well able to sustain interest in his solo on the dancebound Contraflow.

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If you need to sample Mullen’s playing before approaching this album, hear his contribution to the bopping soundtrack of the Yellow Pages morning-after-the-party TV ad.

Discography
Houdini; Safe Haven; Breathless; 606 Theme; Contraflow; Risky Business; Absent Friends; Hip-Hoperation (42.16)
Collective personnel: Mullen (g/gsyn); Robin Aspland (kyb); Laurence Cottle (elb); Ian Thomas, Jeremy Stacey (d); Mornington Lockett (ts); Anthony Kerr (vib); Richard and Laurence Cottle (syn prog/kyb). London, c.1990.
(Six Strings And A Plank Of Wood SAP CD 101)

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