LABELS: ah um
WORKS: Perfect Houseplants
PERFORMER: Mark Lockheart (saxes); Huw Warren (p, acc, cello); Dudley Phillips (b); Martin France (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 14
Although this unpretentious, tuneful recording involves two former members of Loose Tubes, it is less self-consciously eclectic than, say, the magpie-like world-music borrowings of fellow-Tubes offshoots Human Chain and the Steve Arguelles group. Mark Lockheart’s is an affecting, tenderly wispy saxophone sound, not unlike former section mate Iain Ballamy’s; Huw Warren’s piano is limpid and mellifluous, yet vigorous when necessary, and the compact, accessible compositions are a cut above the quick-riff-and-improvisation vehicles too common in contemporary UK jazz.
France and Phillips are unspectacularly dependable, though the former may be a trifle too randomly skittering for those who expect drummers to adhere more strictly to a straightforward timekeeping role. The assured maturity of Perfect Houseplants is particularly welcome, since it demonstrates the strength and depth of the current crop of youthful jazz musicians in the UK, despite the media spotlight now being trained elsewhere. Chris Parker