Jazz Suite Inspired by Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood

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COMPOSERS: Stan Tracey
LABELS: Blue Note
PERFORMER: Stan Tracey (p) with Bobby Wellins (ts); Jeff Clyne (b); Jackie Dougan (d)


Recorded in 1965, when Stan Tracey was house pianist at Ronnie Scott’s, and a year before he recorded the Alfie soundtrack with Sonny Rollins, Under Milk Wood is one of the most celebrated recordings in UK jazz. Tracey’s startlingly percussive, eccentric piano style and his close rapport with tenorman Bobby Wellins do bring Thelonious Monk and Charlie Rouse to mind, but the cogent pungency of the compositions (in catchy mid-tempo tunes or in haunting ballads like ‘Starless and Bible Black’ and the title-track) is all his own. As pithy soloist and as accompanist Tracey is one of jazz’s originals; Under Milk Wood is his early small-group masterwork, subtly punchy, highly accessible and world-class. Chris Parker