Secret Sessions: Hoop

Paul Booth convened Steve Hamilton, Ross Stanley, Laurence Cottle and others to produce some tasteful and ingenious fusion


Secret Sessions is the collective moniker for saxophonist Paul Booth’s intriguing on-going series where he invites jazz musicians to record together but with a rather unusual brief. As he puts it: “It dawned on me that it could be fun to keep the musicians in the dark about who they were going to be recording with on the day . . . the only information they had was instrumentation to aid them in their arrangement and what time and where they need to be.” The first secret session was entitled Fragile Eagle (Ubuntu, 2020) and along with Booth, comprised an entirely different crew including Steve Fishwick, Oli Hayhurst and Tom Cawley.

This is actually quite an interesting modus operandi and judging by the results appears to work very successfully. Booth’s composition Sinterval evinces a distinctly Brecker Brothers feel and there’s an immediate realisation that Booth has recruited some absolutely top-line musicians. Trumpeter Tom Walsh’s initial solo on the opener cuts straight to the chase with precision and bell-like clarity. It’s also the first opportunity that bass guitarist Laurence Cottle gets to display his virtuosity. Another Booth number, Good, Bad Fortune, offers some spectacularly meaty guitar work from Chris Allard.

On the funky Walsh-penned number Boz Pity, there are synthy strains of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters underpinned by Cottle’s lithe bass playing. The session calms down with Walsh’s elegant ballad Cultus Lake, the trumpeter’s solo channelling the gracefulness of Kenny Wheeler. On Allard’s majestic Ocean Mirage, Booth lays down some satisfying tenor lines succeeded by the guitarist’s legato-rich solo.

Booth’s “mystery” session seems to have paid-off, sparking some first-class fusion from his cannily curated cohort of players.

Sinterval; Silo; Good, Bad Fortune; Erin; Boz Pity; Cultus Lake; Ocean Mirage; Stop Telling Us What To Do (46.16)
Tom Walsh (t, flh, kyb); Paul Booth (ts, bcl); Trevor Mires (tb, kyb, vocoder); Chris Allard (elg); Steve Hamilton (kyb); Ross Stanley (org); Laurence Cottle (elb); Miles Bould (pc); Ian Thomas (d). London, 23 October 2019.
Ubuntu Music UBU0092