Martin Drew, Mornington Lockett, Jim Hart, Steve Melling, Paul Morgan

THE NEW COURIERS - BRAZILIAN THOROUGHFARE - TR581

Bobby Wellins / Don Weller "Nine Songs"

The fourth album on Trio Records led by Martin Drew and Mornington Lockett features The New Couriers "live" at the 606 club in London. The set features compositions by the great pianist/vibraphone player Victor Feldman, as well as the title track by Steve Melling. A burning set by five of the greatest players on the scene.

 

1. The Chant
(Victor Feldman) 13.22
2. New Delhi
(Victor Feldman) 14.19
3. Falling In Love
(Victor Feldman) 11.44
4. Brazilian Thoroughfare
(Steve Melling) 15.12
5. You And The Night And The Music
(Arthur Schwartz) 13.11
Total time 67.57

Recorded 28 June 2008 at the 606 Club, London,
by Peter Watts.
Mixed and mastered by Andrew Cleyndert.
Produced by Martin Drew & Mornington Lockett.

Saxophonist Mornington Lockett must be one of the most complete masters of the instrument alive today, and the fact that his co-leader, Martin Drew, was Oscar Peterson's drummer for many years speaks for itself. Add phenomenal young vibraphonist Jim Hart, pianist Steve Melling and bassist Paul Morgan and you have the perfect recipe for the high-octane jazz that is this band's speciality. It takes more than technique to improvise at this discursive length while keeping the ear transfixed by a torrential flow of ideas and pure energy. It's irresistible, no matter what your taste in jazz.

DAVE GELLY - THE OBSERVER

Since the original late-50s Jazz Couriers, led by the sax duo of Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott, would regularly mix Latin dance-shuffles with insane-tempo bebop, this new title from the Couriers' devoted tribute band was a bit worrying. But New Couriers regulars need have no fear, right from the opening outburst of the late Victor Feldman's hard-boppish The Chant, with the precise, bluesy bluster of the excellent Mornington Lockett's tenor solo hurtling upwards over the propulsion of drummer-leader Martin Drew's irresistible hi-hat snaps. Vibraphonist Jim Hart's limpid lines make a fine solo contrast, and the whole band is marshalled and cajoled by the thoughtful Steve Melling on piano and the steady purr of Paul Morgan's immaculate bass-playing. Three of the tunes are Feldman's (along with Dave Holland and John McLaughlin, he was one of the Englishmen who caught Miles Davis's ear), and if Steve Melling's Latin title track doesn't really sustain either the Feldman incisiveness or his own pianistic inventiveness, the closing You and the Night and the Music is right in the old Couriers' hyper-bop ballpark.

John Fordham - THE GUARDIAN

 

Liner notes by Jack Masserik, London Evening Standard:

ONLY one Briton has played with the Oscar Peterson trio. And not just a one-night stand, but on first-choice call for thirty years, touring the world and performing to stadium-sized audiences from the Royal Albert Hall to the Hollywood Bowl. The same musician has backed scores of American stars at Ronnie Scott's and spent more than 20 years with Ronnie Scott's own group. You'd imagine that such a player would blow his own trumpet a bit. But Martin Drew doesn't. That's partly because he's a drummer, but mostly because he's of the generation who believed that real talent will always be respected, if only by other musicians.

And that's true. Musicians all round the world recognise Martin as a top-class player. One other British drummer -- Randy Jones, who went to the States with Maynard Ferguson's band and later joined the Dave Brubeck quartet -- has achieved comparable international status. But Randy doesn't have a jazz nickname. Martin has. Another great US pianist, Cedar Walton, calls him "Dish" -- not on account of his svelte appearance, of course, but because of his old, mellow chinese ride cymbal sound.

Time marches on, though, and newer listeners who have come to jazz since the deaths of Scott and Peterson may be unfamilar with Martin's propulsive drumming. This worthy album will surprise them. Martin, together with Mornington Lockett, leads this group these days, and it is characteristic of him not to give it his own name. Instead he named it after The Jazz Couriers, a legendary British quintet immortalised by Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes. In its first incarnation Nigel Hitchock shared the two-tenor front line with Mornington Lockett, who transcribed the Couriers' brilliant arrangements from the original vinyl recordings. But Tubby also played vibes, so Jim Hart, a young multi-instrumentalist who also plays piano and drums, later joined the band on vibraphone.

Hart replaces Hitchcock on this exciting live album, recorded at Chelsea's 606 Club on 28 June 2008, with Lockett on tenor and soprano saxes and pianist Steve Melling and double-bassist Paul Morgan completing a handpicked rhythm section. It opens with The Chant, a medium-tempo groover in the style of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. This inspires soulful solos all round. When Lockett plays tenor I hear not only such American greats as Bob Berg and Mike Brecker but also British heavyweights like Hayes, Scott and Don Weller.

New Delhi, a funky medium-tempo piece, feaures Lockett in more reflective mood on soprano, with Hart's vibes playing referencing Bobby Hutcherson for tone and Joe Locke for technique. Falling in Love, a ballad original by Victor Feldman, inspires a handsome bass chorus by Paul Morgan, whose steady time and deep sonority reminds me of the great Ray Brown. "He's one of the greatest bass players around anywhere," says Martin, "and I have played with a few in my time." (So indeed he has, the great Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen among them.)

Brazilian Thoroughfare, by Steve Melling, has an appropriately Latin-American feel, with more impressive work from Hart and the composer, whose solo-piano interlude reflects the wisdom of a whole clutch of piano greats, notably Horace Silver, Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner. The steaming set-clcoser, You and the Night and the Music, is the only standard of the session. A flagwaver in the best Jazz Couriers tradition, it switches between Latin and straight-swing, demanding total bass and drums precision at the kind of insane tempo Tubby used to love. Morning Lockett devours the cleverly modified changes with similar relish. Dig in and enjoy.