The Jazz Mann | Leo Richardson Quartet - The Chase | Review | The Jazz Mann

Accessibility Menu

REVIEW

Leo Richardson Quartet - The Chase Rating: 4 out of 5 On its own terms the album succeeds brilliantly, evoking the ghosts of a previous era but imbuing them with a very contemporary vim and vigour. It’s a convincing updating of the hard bop tradition.

Leo Richardson Quartet

“The Chase”

(Ubuntu Music UBU005)

“The Chase” is the début album from the London based saxophonist and composer Leo Richardson. A tenor sax specialist Richardson was nominated in the Rising Star category at the London Music Awards and has led his quartet in performances at some of the most prestigious jazz venues in the capital and is a regular host of the Late Late Show at Ronnie Scott’s. 

Richardson is the son of the celebrated British bassist Jim Richardson, one time leader of the fondly remembered band Pogo and an in demand sideman who has worked with many of the greats of the music including the late trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker. It was Jim Richardson who was behind the recent re-issue of a 1983 Baker performance from the now defunct Canteen venue which was released on the Ubuntu label in 2016 as “Chet Baker Live In London”. Jim Richardson played bass on that session which also featured fellow British musicians John Horler (piano) and Tony Mann (drums). The three Brits emerge with great credit on one of the most significant re-releases of 2016. The album attracted considerable critical acclaim and my own appraisal can be read here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/chet-baker-live-in-london/

It was Jim Richardson who first introduced the young Leo to jazz, nurturing his interest in, and love of, the music. Leo subsequently studied jazz at the Trinity School of Music in London where his tutors included Jean Toussaint, Julian Siegel, Mark Lockheart, Martin Speake and Mick Foster.

Leo graduated from Trinity in 2013 with a First Class Honours Degree in Jazz Performance. Besides leading his own quartet he has also become an in demand sideman who has worked with an impressive array of jazz and pop artists, including Kylie Minogue, Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter, Wet Wet Wet, Heritage Orchestra, Candi Staton, John Newman, Ella Eyre, Jessie Ware, The BBC Proms, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, Submotion Orchestra, Ronan Keating, Blue, Peter Andre, Mulatu Astatke, Anne-Marie, Clare Teal, Roger Taylor (Queen), Toyah Wilcox, Il Divo,The Heliocentrics, Ben Sidran, Elaine Delmar, Vula Malinga, Alan Skidmore, Dick Pearce, Norma Winstone, Gary Husband, Simon Purcell, Andrew McCormack and Jim Mullen. It’s quite a list, and by no means comprehensive.

Richardson’s own regular jazz quartet features Rick Simpson on piano, Mark Lewandowski on double bass and Ed Richardson (presumably the leader’s brother) at the drums. The music is unashamedly in the hard bop style with Leo citing the influence of drummer Art Blakey, pianist Horace Silver and saxophonists Joe Henderson, Dexter Gordon and John Coltrane.

The artwork for “The Chase” includes the Coltrane quote “You’ve got to look back at the old things and see them in a new light”. Essentially this is what Leo does on a series of original compositions inspired by the writing of Blakey, Silver et al as Leo explains;
“I am extremely drawn to jazz music of the late 1950s and early 1960s. I never set out to create a new genre or style or to innovate. I wanted to regenerate the spirit of the music that I love but with a modern injection from contemporary musicians who are stunning players in their own right. I feel that some contemporary jazz has lost the spirit of swing and the exciting American vibe that I’m so drawn to. I wanted to recapture this style in a contemporary setting in order to rejuvenate the scene with memorable melodies, ferocious tempos, hard swing and exciting interaction”.

Leo and his quartet are joined in their quest by guest performers Quentin Collins (trumpet) and Alan Skidmore (tenor sax), the latter a profound influence on the young Leo. Jean Toussaint provides liner notes which shed light on the individual compositions, many of which pay tribute to Leo’s musical heroes.

The opening “Blues For Joe” pays homage to Joe Henderson and gets the album off to a rousing, energetic start. As Toussaint observes the style is essentially the kind of hard bop that distinguished the Blue Note label in the 50s and 60s. However there’s a nice contemporary twist when Lewandowski unexpectedly provides the opening solo, later handing on to Leo, whose turbo-charged outpourings forge a molten amalgam of Henderson and Coltrane. Simpson then takes over with a series of scurrying piano runs as Ed Richardson’s crisp, energetic drumming drives the music forward.

Quentin Collins is added to the group for “Demon E”, a loping, medium paced swinger inspired by the sound of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Collins takes the first solo, his sound blues inflected and highly fluent . Leo’s solo is robust and again speaks of the blues while Simpson stretches out succinctly at the piano. Leo and Quentin Collins then combine effectively towards the close.

“The Curve” also features Collins and is a blues with the kind of earworm hook that distinguished Lee Morgan tunes such as the “The Sidewinder”. With bass and drums providing the necessary rhythmic impetus Leo, Simpson and Collins take the opportunity solo expansively and there’s also something of a feature for Ed Richardson.

The vibrant title track owes something to the styles of Horace Silver and Dexter Gordon and features a mercurial opening solo from Simpson followed by Leo tearing it up on tenor. Ed Richardson’s dynamic drumming fairly powers the music along and he’s rewarded with his own volcanic drum solo. Collins is in there too, somewhere.

If the explosive title track pays homage to the Dexter Gordon album of the same name then the ballad “Elisha’s Song” exhibits a very different aspect of Gordon’s – and Leo’s- playing. Introduced by a limpid passage of unaccompanied piano from Simpson the piece features Leo’s tenor playing at its most tender. Gordon was noted for the warmth of his ballad playing and as this beautiful piece reveals it’s also a quality shared by Leo Richardson. Simpson also adds a lyrical piano solo supported by languid, melodic bass and sympathetically brushed drums.

Unaccompanied double bass introduces the Latin flavoured “Mambo” but this is just the calm before the storm as Leo Richardson stretches out on tenor in the classic saxophone trio format accompanied by Lewandowski’s supple but muscular bass and the rolling thunder of Ed Richadrson’s fluid drumming. The introduction of Simpson initially brings a more reflective aspect to the music but he gradually ramps up the tension during a well constructed solo that again receives inventive and imaginative support from bass and drums. Finally Leo Richardson returns for a rousing, Coltrane-esque group finale.

As its title might suggest “Silver Lining” represents Leo Richardson’s tribute to the great Horace Silver. Swinging and melodic the piece possesses many of Silver’s hallmarks and includes memorable solos from Simpson at the piano, the leader on raunchy, bluesy tenor and Lewandowski on double bass plus a series of dynamic drum breaks from Ed Richardson.

Finally we hear the ten minute epic “Mr. Skid” which sees Leo Richardson going toe to toe on tenor with one of his key influences, the great Alan Skidmore. Introduced by a roll of the drums from Ed Richardson the piece evokes memories of the great Coltrane bands of the 1960s with Simpson cast as McCoy Tyner and Ed Richardson as Elvin Jones. The twin tenors exchange powerful, visceral solos digging long and deep and also engage in a series of shorter exchanges before coming together in tandem towards the close. Simpson also gets the chance to stretch out on piano, soloing expansively above a roiling backdrop of busy bass and drums. It’s dynamic, passionate and thrilling stuff.

As an album “The Chase” doesn’t break any new ground but by Richardson’s own admittance that isn’t its business. On its own terms the album succeeds brilliantly, evoking the ghosts of a previous era but imbuing them with a very contemporary vim and vigour. The standard of the playing is exceptional throughout and as compositions Richardson’s homages are convincing in their own right. As a writer Richardson is attempting to create new jazz classics rather than merely recycling the old ones. It’s a thoroughly convincing updating of the hard bop tradition and the reviews thus far have been fulsome in their praise for a very well executed recording. On this evidence Richardson promises to be the most significant British saxophonist of this type to emerge since Simon Spillett.

However one suspects that the ultimate place to enjoy this music would be in a live, jazz club environment. This core quartet promises to be a highly exciting live prospect and listeners will get the chance to check them out on their forthcoming UK tour, dates listed below.


ON TOUR;

Nov 26 – The Talking Heads, Southampton
Nov 30 – Matt & Phred’s, Manchester
Dec 1 – Opus 4 Jazz Club, Darlington
Dec 2 – Zeffirellis, Ambleside
Dec 4 – Kenilworth Jazz Club
Dec 5 – North Wales Jazz
Dec 7 – The Blue Boar, Poole
Dec 12 – Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, London

More information at http://www.leorichardsonmusic.com

The Chase

Leo Richardson Quartet

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

4 out of 5

The Chase

On its own terms the album succeeds brilliantly, evoking the ghosts of a previous era but imbuing them with a very contemporary vim and vigour. It’s a convincing updating of the hard bop tradition.

Leo Richardson Quartet

“The Chase”

(Ubuntu Music UBU005)

“The Chase” is the début album from the London based saxophonist and composer Leo Richardson. A tenor sax specialist Richardson was nominated in the Rising Star category at the London Music Awards and has led his quartet in performances at some of the most prestigious jazz venues in the capital and is a regular host of the Late Late Show at Ronnie Scott’s. 

Richardson is the son of the celebrated British bassist Jim Richardson, one time leader of the fondly remembered band Pogo and an in demand sideman who has worked with many of the greats of the music including the late trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker. It was Jim Richardson who was behind the recent re-issue of a 1983 Baker performance from the now defunct Canteen venue which was released on the Ubuntu label in 2016 as “Chet Baker Live In London”. Jim Richardson played bass on that session which also featured fellow British musicians John Horler (piano) and Tony Mann (drums). The three Brits emerge with great credit on one of the most significant re-releases of 2016. The album attracted considerable critical acclaim and my own appraisal can be read here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/chet-baker-live-in-london/

It was Jim Richardson who first introduced the young Leo to jazz, nurturing his interest in, and love of, the music. Leo subsequently studied jazz at the Trinity School of Music in London where his tutors included Jean Toussaint, Julian Siegel, Mark Lockheart, Martin Speake and Mick Foster.

Leo graduated from Trinity in 2013 with a First Class Honours Degree in Jazz Performance. Besides leading his own quartet he has also become an in demand sideman who has worked with an impressive array of jazz and pop artists, including Kylie Minogue, Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter, Wet Wet Wet, Heritage Orchestra, Candi Staton, John Newman, Ella Eyre, Jessie Ware, The BBC Proms, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, Submotion Orchestra, Ronan Keating, Blue, Peter Andre, Mulatu Astatke, Anne-Marie, Clare Teal, Roger Taylor (Queen), Toyah Wilcox, Il Divo,The Heliocentrics, Ben Sidran, Elaine Delmar, Vula Malinga, Alan Skidmore, Dick Pearce, Norma Winstone, Gary Husband, Simon Purcell, Andrew McCormack and Jim Mullen. It’s quite a list, and by no means comprehensive.

Richardson’s own regular jazz quartet features Rick Simpson on piano, Mark Lewandowski on double bass and Ed Richardson (presumably the leader’s brother) at the drums. The music is unashamedly in the hard bop style with Leo citing the influence of drummer Art Blakey, pianist Horace Silver and saxophonists Joe Henderson, Dexter Gordon and John Coltrane.

The artwork for “The Chase” includes the Coltrane quote “You’ve got to look back at the old things and see them in a new light”. Essentially this is what Leo does on a series of original compositions inspired by the writing of Blakey, Silver et al as Leo explains;
“I am extremely drawn to jazz music of the late 1950s and early 1960s. I never set out to create a new genre or style or to innovate. I wanted to regenerate the spirit of the music that I love but with a modern injection from contemporary musicians who are stunning players in their own right. I feel that some contemporary jazz has lost the spirit of swing and the exciting American vibe that I’m so drawn to. I wanted to recapture this style in a contemporary setting in order to rejuvenate the scene with memorable melodies, ferocious tempos, hard swing and exciting interaction”.

Leo and his quartet are joined in their quest by guest performers Quentin Collins (trumpet) and Alan Skidmore (tenor sax), the latter a profound influence on the young Leo. Jean Toussaint provides liner notes which shed light on the individual compositions, many of which pay tribute to Leo’s musical heroes.

The opening “Blues For Joe” pays homage to Joe Henderson and gets the album off to a rousing, energetic start. As Toussaint observes the style is essentially the kind of hard bop that distinguished the Blue Note label in the 50s and 60s. However there’s a nice contemporary twist when Lewandowski unexpectedly provides the opening solo, later handing on to Leo, whose turbo-charged outpourings forge a molten amalgam of Henderson and Coltrane. Simpson then takes over with a series of scurrying piano runs as Ed Richardson’s crisp, energetic drumming drives the music forward.

Quentin Collins is added to the group for “Demon E”, a loping, medium paced swinger inspired by the sound of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Collins takes the first solo, his sound blues inflected and highly fluent . Leo’s solo is robust and again speaks of the blues while Simpson stretches out succinctly at the piano. Leo and Quentin Collins then combine effectively towards the close.

“The Curve” also features Collins and is a blues with the kind of earworm hook that distinguished Lee Morgan tunes such as the “The Sidewinder”. With bass and drums providing the necessary rhythmic impetus Leo, Simpson and Collins take the opportunity solo expansively and there’s also something of a feature for Ed Richardson.

The vibrant title track owes something to the styles of Horace Silver and Dexter Gordon and features a mercurial opening solo from Simpson followed by Leo tearing it up on tenor. Ed Richardson’s dynamic drumming fairly powers the music along and he’s rewarded with his own volcanic drum solo. Collins is in there too, somewhere.

If the explosive title track pays homage to the Dexter Gordon album of the same name then the ballad “Elisha’s Song” exhibits a very different aspect of Gordon’s – and Leo’s- playing. Introduced by a limpid passage of unaccompanied piano from Simpson the piece features Leo’s tenor playing at its most tender. Gordon was noted for the warmth of his ballad playing and as this beautiful piece reveals it’s also a quality shared by Leo Richardson. Simpson also adds a lyrical piano solo supported by languid, melodic bass and sympathetically brushed drums.

Unaccompanied double bass introduces the Latin flavoured “Mambo” but this is just the calm before the storm as Leo Richardson stretches out on tenor in the classic saxophone trio format accompanied by Lewandowski’s supple but muscular bass and the rolling thunder of Ed Richadrson’s fluid drumming. The introduction of Simpson initially brings a more reflective aspect to the music but he gradually ramps up the tension during a well constructed solo that again receives inventive and imaginative support from bass and drums. Finally Leo Richardson returns for a rousing, Coltrane-esque group finale.

As its title might suggest “Silver Lining” represents Leo Richardson’s tribute to the great Horace Silver. Swinging and melodic the piece possesses many of Silver’s hallmarks and includes memorable solos from Simpson at the piano, the leader on raunchy, bluesy tenor and Lewandowski on double bass plus a series of dynamic drum breaks from Ed Richardson.

Finally we hear the ten minute epic “Mr. Skid” which sees Leo Richardson going toe to toe on tenor with one of his key influences, the great Alan Skidmore. Introduced by a roll of the drums from Ed Richardson the piece evokes memories of the great Coltrane bands of the 1960s with Simpson cast as McCoy Tyner and Ed Richardson as Elvin Jones. The twin tenors exchange powerful, visceral solos digging long and deep and also engage in a series of shorter exchanges before coming together in tandem towards the close. Simpson also gets the chance to stretch out on piano, soloing expansively above a roiling backdrop of busy bass and drums. It’s dynamic, passionate and thrilling stuff.

As an album “The Chase” doesn’t break any new ground but by Richardson’s own admittance that isn’t its business. On its own terms the album succeeds brilliantly, evoking the ghosts of a previous era but imbuing them with a very contemporary vim and vigour. The standard of the playing is exceptional throughout and as compositions Richardson’s homages are convincing in their own right. As a writer Richardson is attempting to create new jazz classics rather than merely recycling the old ones. It’s a thoroughly convincing updating of the hard bop tradition and the reviews thus far have been fulsome in their praise for a very well executed recording. On this evidence Richardson promises to be the most significant British saxophonist of this type to emerge since Simon Spillett.

However one suspects that the ultimate place to enjoy this music would be in a live, jazz club environment. This core quartet promises to be a highly exciting live prospect and listeners will get the chance to check them out on their forthcoming UK tour, dates listed below.


ON TOUR;

Nov 26 – The Talking Heads, Southampton
Nov 30 – Matt & Phred’s, Manchester
Dec 1 – Opus 4 Jazz Club, Darlington
Dec 2 – Zeffirellis, Ambleside
Dec 4 – Kenilworth Jazz Club
Dec 5 – North Wales Jazz
Dec 7 – The Blue Boar, Poole
Dec 12 – Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, London

More information at http://www.leorichardsonmusic.com


blog comments powered by Disqus

JAZZ MANN FEATURES

Sunday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Abergavenny, September 1st 2019.

Sunday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Abergavenny, September 1st 2019.

The final day of the Festival and performances from Tango Jazz Quartet, Renewal Choir and Claire Victoria Duo.


Saturday at  Wall2Wall Jazz Festival 2019, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 31/08/2019.

Saturday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival 2019, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 31/08/2019.

Ian Mann on live performances by the Alex Goodyear Bop Septet, Chube with Dennis Rollins, and the Sarah Gillespie Sextet, plus a screening of the Chet Baker biopic "Born To Be Blue".


JAZZ MANN RECOMMENDS