JJ 03/93: George Ricci And The Improverts With Lol Coxhill – A Big Honk

Thirty years ago, Derek Ansell liked the fresh conception of traditional forms displayed by reedman and composer Ricci. First published in JJ March 1993


This is a vital and vibrant seven-piece band from Oxfordshire. George Ricci composed and arranged the music and his solos on tenor, soprano and trumpet have plenty of bite and substance.

A Big Honk has an engaging melody line and thrusting solo from Hawkins, Dave Holdsworth and the leader.

Beyond The Bell, The Wave has a strong brass theme on part one and a warm, lyrical tenor solo from George on part two. The leader is an original voice on tenor, soprano and a host of other instruments not heard on this release. Sometimes he plays in an insinuating, buzzy manner rather like a hard bop version of Ben Webster for want of a better description.

Crisp, incisive swing and some deftly constructed solos form the ingredients of Six Fifty. Geoff Hawkins is a big-toned tenor man whose solos tend more towards free-jazz styling with the deploy­ment of a wide range of tonal manipulations. George is contem­porary in sound and approach although echoes of past masters like Webster, Lester Young and Stan Getz are always present in his solo work.

The whole band is very inven­tive, full of strong soloists and a driving rhythm section. Kelly Aiken’s smoky voice enlivens Lost And Found and demonstrates good control and warm jazz inflections.

This is a British band with a fresh conception of traditional forms and is strongly recom­mended, not least for the leader’s sensual tenor and soprano stylings.

(1) A Big Honk; Beyond The Bell, The Wave; Six Fifty; Lost And Found/Sarcophagus; Little Mystery; (2) Autumn Leaves; Three Songs For Dudu (Thoughts/ Thoughts Into Action/Thank You); I Can’t Get Started (66.52)
(1) Dave Holdsworth, Matt Holland (t/flh); Griff Griffiths (tb); Geoff Hawkins (ts); George Ricci (ts/ss); Adrian Hocking (b); Andy Goodchild (d); Kelly Aiken (v).
(2) Jez Cook (elg); Lol Coxhill (ss); Matt Hol­land (t/flh); Griff Griffiths (tb); George Haw­kins (ts); George Ricci (ts/t); Adrian Hocking (elb); Martin Hart (d/pc). Oxfordshire, December 16 & 30, 1990.
(Slam CD 202)