Songs of the Summer

COMPOSERS: Geoff Gascoyne
LABELS: Jazzizit
ALBUM TITLE: Geoff Gascoyne
PERFORMER: Geoff Gascoyne (b), Ben Castle (ss, ts), Gareth Williams (p), Sebastiaan De Krom (d), Jamie Cullum (v), Anthony Kerr (vib), Malcolm Macfarlane (g)
CATALOGUE NO: JITCD 0229

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Although it is the doyen of tuneful, sensitive bassist/leaders Charlie Haden to whom Geoff Gascoyne dedicates one of Songs of the Summer’s compositions – a guitar/bass waltz – it is another great bassist/leader, Dave Holland, whom the UK bassist most clearly emulates on this, his fourth season-themed album.

Like Holland, Gascoyne not only surrounds himself with the brightest and best of the music’s younger players – the rich-toned, surefooted Ben Castle, the fluently eloquent Gareth Williams and the punchy, resourceful Sebasatiaan De Krom – but also anchors the band sound, at once solid and propulsive in his accompanying role, considered but powerful when soloing.

Skilfully programmed, so that Gascoyne’s alternately pithy and sparky originals are interspersed with more familiar fare – a brisk, tricksy, occasionally funky ‘Almost There’, a Jarrettesque duo visit to ‘Summer Night’, a pleasingly skittish visit to Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘One Morning in May’ – the album is undoubtedly more focused than the bassist/composer’s previous efforts, showcasing a lively, vigorous but thoughtful band whose bright solo contributions are as impressive as their assurance and cohesion.

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With telling contributions from the elegant vibes player Anthony Kerr, the neat guitarist Malcolm Macfarlane and the smoky-voiced Jamie Cullum, this is Geoff Gascoyne’s finest album to date. Chris Parker