COMPOSERS: Bobby Wellins
LABELS: Trio Records
WORKS: Time Gentlemen Please
PERFORMER: Bobby Wellins (sax), John Critchinson (piano), Andrew Cleyndert (bass), Mark Taylor (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: TR587
Broadcaster Peter Clayton described Wellins as having a ‘stovepipe sound’, an image prompted by the saxophonist’s legendary, unassailable solo on ‘Starless and Bible Black’ from Stan Tracey’s Under Milk Wood. That LP coincided with the explosion of British post-bop jazz in the mid-1960s, when Wellins and his ilk tended to get overlooked. Then, during what might have been his peak years, his health sidetracked his career. Only about 15 years ago, entering his sixties, did he start to reclaim the recognition he deserves.
His tone and imagination remain as affecting and impressive as ever. Flanked by an admirable rhythm section, he proves he can still cutit on up-tempo numbers, not least on a swaggering ‘St Louis Blues’, but the ballads (a wry, gentle ‘I’m Wishing’, a gorgeous ‘It Never Entered My Mind’ and a funky ‘Willow’) best represent his mix of atmospheric timbre and stimulating improvisations. Barry Witherden