Comme D’Habitude

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Jazzizir
ALBUM TITLE: Stan Tracey and Bobby Wellins
PERFORMER: Bobby Wellins (ts), Stan Tracey (p), Andy Cleyndert (b), Clark Tracey (d)
CATALOGUE NO: JITCD 9816

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Despite the fact that their musical compatibility has been justly celebrated since their collaboration on one of British jazz’s most illustrious recordings, the 1965 suite inspired by Dylan Thomas’s radio play for voices Under Milk Wood, Stan Tracey and Bobby Wellins have not recorded together for over 30 years.

Although not, on paper at least, the most original project with which to remedy this anomalous situation, this album of tunes connected with Frank Sinatra provides a perfect showcase for the highly individual talents of each man. Tracey, all rhythm-breaking choppy chords in accompaniment, and alternating clanging, pungent percussiveness with teasing, dazzling runs in his solo spots, is simply one of the abiding glories of European jazz; Wellins, with his pleasantly foggy, elegant tenor tone, edged with an affecting melancholy particularly well suited to the aching ballads in which Sinatra revelled, provides a perfect foil.

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With rhythm-section duties performed with their customary snappy aplomb by bassist Andy Cleyndert and Tracey’s drummer son Clark (who also produced the album), this is post-bop mainstream jazz at its sparkily intelligent best. Chris Parker