Thursday, 7 June 2007

Esmond Selwyn...

Finding copies of the 'cover art' from this CD proved almost impossible in a fairly thorough websearch. The number of sites that list the tracks, personnel and recording details are legion, yet almost all have a little box with 'no image available' where the CD booklet would normally be displayed. Even the BLOGGER posting interface needed about a hundred attempts before it let me upload this image!!

As I recently mentioned in an email to Gregg, I like to steer clear of gratuitous abuse in my reviews. Yet the graphic design here was just SO bad, how could I let it go unremarked? Fortunately I maintain my normal balance and mention that Selwyn is a decent post-Wes jazz guitarist, should SLAM RECORDS supremo George Haslam be after my scalp.

Afric Pepperbird is proud to display the cover here in all its glory, and comments about it are welcome - any advance on Alvin Stardust?

Follow That
SLAM (CD 240)

Blues For Wes; Prelude To A Kiss; Flight Of Fancy; Serenata; The Wild Brown; One For My Dad; Have You Met Miss Jones?; Polka Dots & Moonbeams; Just One Of Those Things.

Esmond Selwyn (g); Paul Sawtell (p); Bill Coleman (b); Robin Jones (d).
Recorded November 1999.

Never judge a book by its cover, or so the old saying goes. With one of the most aesthetically challenged CD booklets I’ve ever seen, the saying has seldom been more prescient than it is with ‘Follow That’. Too bad to be redeemed as kitsch. this is simply bad graphic design which does the product no favours. Expectations are of a sorry club circuit singer’s home-made tribute to the music of Billy Fury or Alvin Stardust. Fortunately I’ve encountered Selwyn’s playing before, and whilst I’m sure that others already familiar with this infrequently recorded guitarist will be delighted to learn that he’s made a new album, the uninitiated (i.e. the vast majority) will be disinclined to give this disc a second glance for fear that they turn to stone.

Shame, because Selwyn deserves far better, and his work compares favourably with recent recordings by Jim Mullen and the early work of Martin Taylor. Playing with a clean, warm tone and dexterity and harmonic daring recalling Tal Farlow, Selwyn commands your attention by using taste, sensitivity and imagination. The opening ‘Blues For Wes’, and Selwyn’s other composition, ‘One For My Dad’, show a man comfortable in the post-bop/pre-fusion milieu. Pianist Paul Sawtell has a lyricism and harmonic depth coming straight from the Bill Evans lineage, and contributes two elegant originals.

Neither Coleman nor Jones compromise the tight group sound, though Sawtell’s engineering has given the bass a rather harsh and decidedly non-woody sound. The remainder of the material is taken from the familiar standard repertoire and played with due reverence - sometimes as a quartet, at other times with Selwyn solo (‘Prelude To A Kiss’) or in duo with Sawtell (‘Just One Of Those Things’). Recommended, and proof that first impressions aren’t to be relied on!

Fred Grand
(Jazz Review, June 2003)

1 comment:

Gregg said...

Comment? Yeah, I have a comment: