Sharp Little Bones with Tony Kofi: Volumes I & II

Nottingham keyboard, bass and drum trio is joined by saxophonist Tony Kofi in a set of originals touching on bop, ballad, funk and Latin

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Them Bones is the house trio at Peggy’s Skylight, the excellent and award-winning jazz club, bar and restaurant in Nottingham’s lively Hockley district, and this is their debut recording.

Bass player Simon Paterson, who composed all the tunes, has explained “We hunkered down and hit the ground, recording a double album in just nine hours. We were having such a blast, really listening to, reacting to, inspiring each other, and having meaningful musical conversations. Everything sounded so great in the studio, we just let it rip, track after track, so what you’re hearing is all live and mostly single takes.” It sounds like it, and I definitely mean that as a compliment.

Adding Nottingham-born Kofi was no bad move either. Despite winning several awards and having played with a whole train-load of major American and British-based musicians he is still, it seems to me, not as widely acclaimed and recognised as he deserves to be. His tenor tone is mostly light and airy but his solos are no less compelling and emotionally engaging for that, and he can get rough and tough and turn up the heat when appropriate: witness Chromatose, for example, or his passionate but controlled solo on the ballad-like Downfall.

Paterson’s varied compositions elicit excellent, imaginative and absorbing work from each of his colleagues, encompassing a pleasing range of idioms, from the amiably funky swagger of Roo’s Blues to the tenderness of Layli’s Lullaby, with the performances sometimes fluently mixing the moods in the development of a single piece.

Producing a double album from a single session of mainly first takes might be expected to result in the inclusion of some relatively lightweight and inessential material, but for my 10 cents there is nothing here that is disposable. Either disc would have made an entirely satisfying album.

Discography
CD1: Ury Bop; Layli’s Lullaby; Stranger Danger; Brie En Croute; Chromatose; Hiddenness; Downfall (41.03)
CD2: Roo’s Blues; Mackerel Sky; troll Stroll; Sorceress; Trailblazing; Blue Finger (40.18)

Tony Kofi (ts); Paul Deats (p, elp, syn); Simon Paterson (b, elb); Andrew Wood (d). Nottingham, summer 2022.
Ubuntu Music UBUO138