JJ 09/83: Jim Mullen – Thumbs Up

Forty years ago, Mark Gilbert noted how well Mullen's hip funk band fit the jazz bill, aided by solos from then still UK-based Chris Hunter. First published in Jazz Journal September 1983

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Some percipient critics have noticed that this is the kind of music that passes for jazz amongst some young people today. And this record, on the whole, passes rather well.

Jim Mullen’s distinctive r’n’b oriented guitar style has been admired by thousands on the British scene for years. His warm, singing guitar lines are choked with the blues, and if at times this material is lightweight, some fine solos are to be found. Some of these come from Chris Hunter, who again proves to be a revelation, even though his Brecker/Sanborn horn has been freshening British jazz for a few years now. His work on Mike Mainieri’s Blue Montreux, and par­ticularly on Stevie Wonder’s As If You Read My Mind is excellent, irrespective of context.

Other com­positions are by Wayne Shorter, Thelonius Monk, Marcus Miller and Chick Corea. The Mullen-penned title track was so named because Mullen plays the guitar solely with his thumb, not unlike that other fine guitarist Wes Montgomery.

Readers should allow previous experience of Mullen in the Morrissey-Mullen band to guide their choice. They will be reminded of that band in earlier years, since the absence of vocals gives the players more time to dig into solos.

Discography
Blue Montreux; Fall; As If You Read My Mind; Crepescule — Thumbs Up; Herbal Scent; Friends; Beauty And The Beast
Jim Mullen (g); Chris Hunter (as/ts/f): Guy Barker (t/flh); Colin Dudman (elp); Damon Butcher (syn); Mitch Dalton (rhythm g); Joe Hubbard (elb); Neal Wilkinson (d); Chris Fletcher (pc). Recorded April 1983.
(Coda 4)