LABELS: Black Box
PERFORMER: Jim Mullen Quartet: Jim Mullen (g), Gareth Williams (p), Mick Hutton (b), Gary Husband (d)


Jim Mullen is a master guitarist who is constantly honing his art and craft. This risky venture that goes back to his Scottish roots by creating jazz versions of the songs of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, has been so triumphantly achieved that Burns has the unity of a suite. Mullen points out that Burns had an ear for a good melody and chose some of the great tunes of his time to fit his words.

The melodies are given enhanced life by the richer modern harmonies Mullen has introduced, and his quartet, which is a working unit not a pick-up group, is integral to the project. Pianist Gareth Williams and Mick Hutton are among the most gifted of the younger generation, Gary Husband is already a leading drummer and pianist, and their passion for the project seems to match their leader’s.


Mullen coaxes a singing sound from the guitar, making the melodies glow. The accompaniment is also exquisitely done, and the solos sparkle. ‘Banks and Braes’, ‘Comin’ Through the Rye’ and several less familiar tunes are lovingly remade.