Jazz Views’ Eddie Myer writes, “The band are superbly balanced, and the performances, captured live in the studio often in first take, are marvellously controlled and executed.”
PAUL BOOTH - Travel Sketches
Ubuntu - UBU0034
Paul Booth - tenor sax; Steve Hamilton - piano; Dave Whitford - bass; Andrew Bain - drums
Paul Booth has spent a great deal of the last 20 years travelling with his saxophone in a dizzying range of high-end musical contexts. His many employers have been drawn for the A-list ranks of soul and rock performers, and from what you might call the contemporary edge of the jazz mainstream - Geoffrey Keezer, Ingrid Jensen, Eddie Henderson, Michael Janisch. This album is presented as a travelogue: a series of musical postcards from places that have left an abiding impression. Booth’s other projects have tended towards the ambitious - both Patchwork Project and Bansangu Orchestra have featured an extensive cast and expansive musical palette - but this project is restricted to a simple acoustic quartet format, with Booth on tenor throughout. Steve Hamilton’s precise, warmly rhapsodic piano sets the tone: his intro to the title track is a lesson in tasteful restraint, and Booth uses him to set up the mood for several of the other selections - ‘Byron Bay’ is quietly yearning, ‘Seattle Fall’ has a pastoral, major-key lightness, the accessible harmony of ‘Red Rocks’ carries its melodic sophistication easily. Andrew Bain’s own projects burn with an Elvin Jones inspired intensity, but here he’s all tasteful, supportive restraint. Only the modal hustle of ‘Medina Scuffle’ hints at the Coltrane-ish as the band up the stakes after Dave Whitford’s satisfying, typically well-conceived introductory statement - it’s a moment of abandon in an otherwise tightly controlled environment. Booth’s tone is clear and centred, his execution crisp and logical and his articulation flawless as you’d expect from such a seasoned, in-demand pro.The band are superbly balanced, and the performances, captured live in the studio often in first take, are marvellously controlled and executed: yet alongside the obvious craftsmanship there’s a direct sincerity of expression and the overall effect is very intimate. Busy session musicians’ own outings can sometimes seem to deliver more in the way of performance than vision, but Booth and co have created a very personal statement that really gives the impression of a collection of letters home, full of the sincerity of feeling born of what the Brazilians call saudade. The closing version of Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” encapsulates the appeal of this nicely judged creation.
Reviewed by Eddie Myer