JJ 01/94: Guy Barker – Isn’t It?

Thirty years ago, Mike Shera enjoyed Barker's duo and quartet tracks but found the rest too fast and furious to allow soloists to settle. First published in Jazz Journal January 1994


There is some wonderfully luxuri­ant and elegant trumpet playing by Guy on the quartet and duo tracks of this album. The quintet and sextet items, on the other hand, tend to be fast and furious, failing to allow the soloists to relax and give of their best.

I particularly enjoyed the trans­formation of In A Mist, with its medium tempo passages, and the gentle Lament. Amandanita, written by Julian Joseph, is a lilt­ing, gently Latinish tune, with the quartet at their most lyrical. I Get Along is carefully disguised (and none the worse for that) and has more delightful playing by the quartet.

Of the others, the longest and most frantic track is Goodspeed, a most apt title, but not a lot of much importance hap­pens in its 10 minutes. Sheldon The Cat (possibly named for Jack Sheldon), has some odd miaow-ings from Jim Mullen’s guitar. Fortunately, normal service from his instrument is restored on All Or Nothing.

There is much to enjoy on this CD, but I wish it had been made up entirely of quartet and duo tracks.

(1) Isn’t It?; Sheldon The Cat; (2) Day And Night; (3) I Get Along Without You Very Well; (4) Goodspeed; (5) In A Mist; (3) Amandanita; (6) All Or Nothing At All; (7) Lament For The Black Tower (67.37)
(1) Guy Barker (t); Nigel Hitchcock (as/ts); Julian Joseph (p); Jim Mullen (g); Alec Dankworth (b); Clark Tracey (d). London, July/August 1991.
(2) as (1) except Jamie Talbot (as) replaces Hitchcock. Mullen omitted. Same dates.
(3) as (2) except Talbot omitted. Same dates.
(4) as (3) except Nigel Hitchcock, Peter King (as) added. Same dates.
(5) Barker (t); Dankworth (b). Same dates.
(6) as (1) except Hitchcock omitted. Same dates.
(7) Barker (t); Stan Tracey (p). Same dates.
(Spotlite SPJ CD 545)