This is a delightful little package. Cardiff based pianist Dave Jones has just released a short short CD of his quartet, and the physical artefact presents like an old fashioned vinyl single whilst the music, clocking in at under twenty minutes and three tracks, might just about take up one side of a LP.
The pleasure of picking up the package (just don’t pop it on your turntable) is equalled by the reminder of what a tight, grooving unit this band is. Jones released Keystones a couple of years ago with substantially the same line-up of Ben Waghorn on sax and flute and Ashley-John Long on bass and vibes (apparently at the same time!). For this set Andy Hague is behind the drum kit. The title track is a briskly swinging affair, a four note, bluesy hook bouncing off the cycling changes, and could have you scratching your head trying to remember which Blue Note classic album it came from if you hadn’t spotted it was a Jones original. Kalimba Blues has an atmospheric sample of the thumb piano sounding a catchy riff, pushed along by a shuffling funk groove. The Power of Burgundy with it’s rolling pulse as Waghorn sounds the long melodic phrases of the theme on flute has a distant Afro-Blue flavour. This is a Dave Jones project firmly in straight ahead jazz territory. What sets it apart is the economy and crispness of the writing and great playing from the band.
The three appetisers here feel like classic standards whilst Waghorn’s fluency and invention is always exciting. Jones’ compositions provide a perfect platform for him. Answers on a Postcard sets the scene, with long, bending notes drawing the ear in, before a blizard of snaking runs up the energy. Jones is no less fiery. He bustles and flows by turn, piling rhythms on top of each other. Long and Hague are a great engine room, really driving the music on with with the energy coming from a deeply felt groove rather than too much clutter.
Jones’ declared intention with this release was to remind us the band are out and about and it’s certainly mission accomplished on that score; catch them if you can and let’s hope there’s a longer set to be enjoyed in the not too distant future.