Swinging jazz has never really been my scene although I can nevertheless appreciate the accomplished musicianship on this album where each member of the band gets plenty of space to show off their prowess.
The record, Hughes debut as a band leader, almost coincides the centenary (in 2019) of the birth of the much revered jazz drummer Art Blakey who died in 1990. The retro cover design indicates that Hughes is paying respectful homage to the jazz traditions represented by his musical hero.
Hughes is a young Manchester-based drummer who made his name by backing trumpeter and Gondwana Records owner Matthew Halsall in recordings such as 'On The Go' which won The Best Album of the Year prize in the Gilles Peterson Worldwide Awards.
Curiously, drumming is never to the fore; only on the final track (Arabia) does Hughes contribute a modest solo.This leaves plenty of opportunities for his assembled musicians to shine and they duly rise to the occasion.
The total players that make up the sextet are: Alan Barnes (alto/baritone sax), Bruce Adams (trumpet); Dean Masser (tenor Sax), Andrzej Baranek (piano) and Ed Harrison (bass).
The seven tracks include compositions by Bobby Watson, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard and Curtis Fuller, names that probably mean more to you than to me if you are a jazz aficionado.
A ten-minute-medley Together Again/Lover Man/Easy Living is the album's centrepiece, a sultry combination of compositions by Carl T. Fischer, Jimmy Davis and Ralph Rainger respectively.
Personally speaking, this is a record that I can admire without getting over-excited about even though I can fully understand how and why someone would find it hot.
It's certainly a record that has potential if you're trying to impress a date with your sophisticated taste! To paraphrase the platitude about love, music is in the ear of the beholder.
Gaz Hughes' website