A special album featuring two of the giants of the tenor saxophone, Bobby Wellins and Don Weller, playing a selection of four tunes each individually and a version of Di's Waltz together, especially arranged by Mark Edwards in settings including a string quartet and clarinet choir featuring jazz saxophonist Alan Barnes.
Don Weller tenor saxophone trks 2,4,6,7,8
Bobby Wellins tenor saxophone trks 1,3,5,8,9
Mark Edwards piano
Andrew Cleyndert double bass
Spike Wells drums
Simon Baggs, Ruth Funnell, Rachel Calaminus,Matthew Forbes, Strings trks 1,4,5,7,9
Alan Barnes clarinets, bass clarinet trks 2.,8
arrangements by Mark Edwards and Patric Harrex
Produced, recorded and designed by Andrew Cleyndert
1. Our Waltz (David Rose) 7.04
2. We’ll Be Together Again (Carl Fischer, Frankie Laine) 7.21
3. My Man’s Gone Now (George Gershwin) 5.52
4. Killing Me Softly (Charles Fox) 5.59
5. Cabin In The Sky (Harold Arlen) 7.08
6. Chelsea Bridge (Billy Strayhorn) 8.26
7. Soul Eyes (Mal Waldron) 9.21
8. Di’s Waltz (Don Weller) 8.28
9. Nocturne No.15 (Frederic Chopin) 4.28
total time 64.25
In his notes to this enjoyable album, producer/bassist Andrew Cleyndert thanks tenormen Don Weller and Bobby Wellins for allowing 'us' (himself and pianist/arranger Mark Edwards) 'free rein', and well he might; given a programme of beautiful ballads (the saccharine 'Killing Me Softly' arguably the only misguided selection) supported by strings and occasional bursts of clarinet from Alan Barnes, the saxophonists produce characteristically flawless, affecting performances on everything from Mal Waldron's 'Soul Eyes' and Billy Strayhorn's 'Chelsea Bridge' to Chopin's 'Nocturne No. 15'.
The tenors take it in turns in the solo spotlight (a duo performance of Don Weller's 'Di's Waltz' apart), Wellins all attractively vulnerable wispiness concealing inner strength, Weller more overtly robust, his pleasingly foggy sound hardening to steeliness where required, but both mining their material for unaffected emotion and rhythmic subtleties.
Andrew Cleyndert, Mark Edwards and consistently adept drummer Spike Wells support the whole proceedings with admirable delicacy but discreet propulsiveness, and the resulting album, its overall sound occasionally reminiscent of Art Pepper's 1980s classic Winter Moon, is that rare beast, a producer's idea that succeeds triumphantly.
CHRIS PARKER Vortex Jazz
Half-a-dozen notes from either of these great tenor saxophonists are all it tiikes to identify them - Don Weller with his rolling phrases and Bobby Wellins with his meltingly beautiful sound and a vibrato like drifting smoke. The essence of each has never been caught and conveyed better rhan in this set of restrained ballad performances. They take turns, accompanied sometimes by a string quartet and sometimes by a choir of clarinets (all played by Alan Barnes), achieving eloquence through a kind of wily simplicity. The arrangements by pianist Mark Edwards are perfectly judged and the whole production is a work of art.
DAVE GELLY The Observer
Scottish saxophone original Bobby Wellins lets tunes burn down to
a glow, rather than stoking them to an inferno like a post-Coltraneist.
Fellow tenor-player Don Weller's more robust style is drawn from
Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins, rather than Wellins' Lester Young
and Stan Getz - and both men (close associates of Stan Tracey's)
have been admired for decades as unconventional, straightahead swingers.
This set, accompanied by classical strings, rhythm section and Alan Barnes' clarinets, might be a bit pensive for their regulars. It's a smoky-ballads affair that includes Chelsea Bridge, My Man's Gone Now and Killing Me Softly. Bobby Wellins' vocabulary of soft, pipe-like hoots, pregnant silences and occasional percussive low notes lends the music a wistful, doomed-romance air (though he sounds a little like a vaporous Wayne Shorter on Chopin's Nocturne No 15). Weller's grainier sound, slurred phrases and lustrous low register provide the contrast that powers an album clearly steered by bassist/producer Andrew Cleyndert and pianist/arranger Mark Edwards. The excellent Mark Edwards also delivers a succession of gem-like piano solos. It's all beautifully executed, though the mood, the repertoire and the silkily enveloping strings parts occasionally tip it ominously toward the blandishments of smooth-jazz.
JOHN FORDHAM The Guardian