Humphrey Lyttelton once turned up for a gig minus his trumpet. Incredible, it has to be said, but true according to Chris Hodgkins. It was he who responded to an SOS and took a pair of horns to the venue – one of them his spare Selmer 99 – thus saving the day, or night. Humph recalled the incident on the radio, referring to Hodgkins’ errand of mercy as like the US cavalry arriving festooned with trumpets. Well, two.
The story lies behind the title and opening track on this quartet album, a calypso-like chart that fits the band’s credentials to the nearest stitch. It’s an international quartet because the pianist is New York-based South Korean Jinjoo Yoo and the guitarist is American Wayne Wilkinson. Alison Rayner is the bassist.
Yoo and Wilkinson have a pervasive influence on the whole album, which sometimes finds Hodgkins in discreet mode, on a couple of tracks removing himself altogether. This says a lot about the man, a lifelong supporter of other musicians and a quality performer himself. Body And Soul is a Yoo feature and In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning a Wilkinson one. Yoo plays like Teddy Wilson filtered through impressionistic jazz modernity and is a delight. Wilkinson arranged Flying Home as a chamber feature with big-band allusions and composed the nifty three-four of Martino’s Waltz.
Another story is Rayner’s about asking Jaco Pastorius for lessons; they were agreed to but never delivered. It’s recalled in her Two Hats And A Paper Bag, which embraces some unified piano and guitar and has the makings of a jazz standard. The story of how Hodgkins refuses to carry the flag at every turn but instead grants the other musicians more than leeway is epitomised by his unadorned front and back theme statements of I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan and the fruitful goings-on in between.
Festooned With Trumpets; Body And Soul; Almost Like Being In Love; Two Hats And A Paper Bag; Angel Eyes; Martino’s Waltz; I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan; Everybody Knows; I’ve Never Been In Love Before; In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning; Flying Home (51.28)
Hodgkins (t); Jinjoo Yoo (p); Wayne Wilkinson (g); Alison Rayner (b). London, 20 May 2019.