Paul Booth: Forty Four

The British saxophonist marks his 44th birthday with another set of strong composition, arrangement and improvisation

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Released on 15 April, Booth’s 44th birthday – hence the title, a nice nod back to Booth’s Trilateral album released when he was 33, and picked up again in every song’s title – Forty Four features a double quartet of longstanding collaborators mixed in with some young musicians from the UK jazz scene.

Booth has stated that he enjoyed the challenge of writing for such an ensemble – though figuring out how to use two bassists proved problematic – and the results are suitably impressive.

Five of the pieces here are originals, with two freely improvised pieces and a new take on Miles’s Four. Blues In The Square kicks off in punchy fashion, with an attacking horn section and a strong guitar solo, only for the pace to slow with the dreamy (and jokeless) Four Candles, distinguished by the leader’s arching soprano solo, and the echoing, atmospheric Tale Of Tetra with its dicing saxophone and trumpet lines.

Perhaps best of all are the lilting Quad Rant, where the lead instruments quietly and then more forcibly make their mark against a gentle instrumental backdrop, and the eerie, unsettling Quartal Quarantine. The reworked Four benefits from its different time signatures.

A lot of thought has gone into this set, both in composition and performance. Booth is in fine voice throughout as a soloist ­– the young man still plays well! – but his accomplices more than match him, notably trumpeter Alexandra Ridout and guitarist Oliver Mason. A strong way to celebrate a birthday.

Discography
Blues In The Square; Four Candles; Tale Of Tetra; Quad Rant; 4 Her; Summer Of 44; Quartal Quarantine; Four (54.04)
Booth (ts, ss); Alexandra Ridout (t, flh); Ross Stanley (p, elp, org); Oliver Mason (g); Dave Whitford (b); Flo Moore (elb); Shane Forbes, Andrew Bain (d). Wantage, Oxfordshire, 2 August 2021.
Ubuntu Music UBU0112