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Roger Beaujolais Quartet - Sunset Rating: 3-5 out of 5 A very classy piece of work that will help to consolidate Beaujolais’ reputation as one of the best loved musicians on the UK jazz scene.

Roger Beaujolais Quartet

“Sunset”

(Stay Tuned Record ST010)

Vibraphonist and composer Roger Beaujolais has been a professional musician for over thirty years. A spectacular vibes soloist he is a highly popular figure on the UK jazz scene, loved by fellow musicians and audiences alike. 

A late comer to both the vibraphone and the professional jazz ranks Roger Beaujolais has more than made up for lost time. He took up the instrument at twenty four and turned professional at thirty working first with the Chevalier Brothers and Ray Gelato during the 1980’s before becoming part of the 1990’s Acid Jazz movement. Beaujolais’ albums for the Acid Jazz label with The Beaujolais Band and Vibraphonic brought him a degree of commercial success including a US hit with Vibraphonic’s “Can’t Get Enough”.

Beaujolais has also enjoyed a successful session career appearing on pop and rock albums by artists as diverse as Duffy, Rumer, Robert Plant, Roni Size, Guy Chambers, Omara Portuondo, Fairground Attraction, Morrissey, Paul Weller, Alison Limerick, Kirsty MacColl, Graham Coxon and Fairground Attraction. He continues to tour with former Fairground Attraction member Mark Nevin.

Since 1999 Beaujolais has placed a greater emphasis on straight ahead jazz setting up his own Stay Tuned label to document his output.  He has since released a number of albums in either a quartet or quintet format  beginning with 1999’s “Old Times” and progressing through “I’ll See You Tonight” (2003), “Sentimental” (2005) “Blue Reflections” (2007) and “Mind The Gap” (2013).

“Sunset”, his latest offering features the core quartet that appeared on “Mind The Gap” with Robin Aspland on piano, Simon Thorpe on double bass and Winston Clifford at the drums. Previous albums have included contributions from guests such as saxophonist Mark Lockheart and percussionist Oli Savill but this time round all the music is performed exclusively by the quartet.

The programme comprises of six original pieces by Beaujoais plus compositions by Cole Porter, Bobby Hutcherson and Jerome Kern.

The sound of Thorpe’s bass ushers in the opening “Unlucky For Some”, a hard driving Beaujolais original featuring lively and imaginative solos from both the composer and pianist Aspland as Thorpe and drummer Clifford provide a propulsive and impressive rhythmic impetus. These two also enjoy an engaging bass and drum dialogue in the tune’s latter stages.

The Beaujolais original “Benign Tonight” is rather less gentle than its title might suggest. Instead it’s a tautly energetic and dynamic piece structured along modal lines and featuring some sparkling and dynamic interplay between Beaujolais and Clifford. Aspland also shines with a tumbling piano solo that is chock full of ideas and Clifford’s drums briefly muscle their way into the limelight. It’s a hugely invigorating quartet performance.

The expected gentleness finally comes with the dreamy ballad “And When You Smile”, an unhurried eight and a half minute performance that sees Beaujolais adopting a softer, more lyrical tone on the vibes as he stretches out. Aspland, surely one of the UK’s most versatile and underrated pianists, displays the kind of sensitivity that has made him such a sought after accompanist to vocalists such as Anita Wardell, Georgia Mancio and Trudy Kerr. Clifford’s quietly energetic brush and stick work also adds much of interest.

A relaxed, but still swinging and energetic take on Cole Porter’s “I Love You” is a celebration of orthodox jazz virtues with lively features for all four members of the group with pithy solos from Beaujolais, Aspland and Thorpe before Clifford exchanges fours with his colleagues. 

“In The Meantime” is a second Beaujolais ballad, a mellow, languid composition with something of the feel of a jazz standard. The floaty sound of the composer’s unaccompanied vibes introduce the piece and Beaujolais takes the first solo, sympathetically and sensitively supported by the rest of the group with Clifford’s deft brushwork a particular delight. Aspland is at his most lyrical with a flowing solo and Thorpe exhibits great melodic sense on his warm toned bass solo.

The great American vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson (born 1941) died in August 2016, just a month before the Beaujolais quartet went into the studios to record “Sunset”. Hutcherson was an acknowledged influence on Beaujolais and the British musician pays tribute with a delightful version of Hutcherson’s jazz waltz “Little B’s Poem”, written by Hutcherson in 1962 for his then infant son, Barry. It’s a relaxed performance that retains something of the overall feel of the previous ballad although Beaujolais’ solo is both agile and inventive, as are the features from both Aspland and Thorpe.

Beaujolais’ own “Round The Houses” is more taut and angular and features more excellent interplay between Beaujolais and Clifford plus a sparkling solo from Aspland who stretches out joyously. Clifford gets to enjoy a series of exhilarating drum breaks. Rooted in the bebop era it’s the kind of performance that Hutcherson himself might have been proud of.

An all round talent Beaujolais also snapped the photograph that adorns the album cover and gives its name to the title track. The warmth of the music reflects the roseate glow of the cover image with the leader’s mellow tone on vibes presaging a wonderfully melodic bass solo from Thorpe.
Beaujolais then solos at greater length followed by the consistently excellent Aspland.

The album concludes with a bustling, up-tempo reading of Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays” with features from all four members of the group. Beaujolais dazzles at the vibes followed by Aspland at the piano then Thorpe at the bass who enjoys a series of scintillating exchanges with Clifford.

Although there are no real surprises here “Sunset” is a very classy piece of work that will help to consolidate Beaujolais’ reputation as one of the best loved musicians on the UK jazz scene. Beajolais has contributed six engaging original pieces to a well programmed collection and the outside material is well chosen, with the Hutcherson piece carrying a poignant extra resonance.

The playing, from a regular working band, is excellent throughout and the musicians are well served by producer Beaujolais and an engineering team of George Murphy and ‘Deptford’ Dave Pine. This is a quartet that is guaranteed to be an exciting and entertaining live attraction. Details of forthcoming gigs can be found at http://www.rogerbeaujolais.com


COMMENTS:

From Wendy Kirkland via Facebook;

If you haven’t already done so, check out the excellent new album from Roger Beaujolais that has just been reviewed by Ian Mann on his superbly informative and user friendly jazz website. We’ve had our copy since the last appearance of Roger at Chesterfield Jazz and it’s been played daily. We love it.

Sunset

Roger Beaujolais Quartet

Monday, June 05, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

3-5 out of 5

Sunset

A very classy piece of work that will help to consolidate Beaujolais’ reputation as one of the best loved musicians on the UK jazz scene.

Roger Beaujolais Quartet

“Sunset”

(Stay Tuned Record ST010)

Vibraphonist and composer Roger Beaujolais has been a professional musician for over thirty years. A spectacular vibes soloist he is a highly popular figure on the UK jazz scene, loved by fellow musicians and audiences alike. 

A late comer to both the vibraphone and the professional jazz ranks Roger Beaujolais has more than made up for lost time. He took up the instrument at twenty four and turned professional at thirty working first with the Chevalier Brothers and Ray Gelato during the 1980’s before becoming part of the 1990’s Acid Jazz movement. Beaujolais’ albums for the Acid Jazz label with The Beaujolais Band and Vibraphonic brought him a degree of commercial success including a US hit with Vibraphonic’s “Can’t Get Enough”.

Beaujolais has also enjoyed a successful session career appearing on pop and rock albums by artists as diverse as Duffy, Rumer, Robert Plant, Roni Size, Guy Chambers, Omara Portuondo, Fairground Attraction, Morrissey, Paul Weller, Alison Limerick, Kirsty MacColl, Graham Coxon and Fairground Attraction. He continues to tour with former Fairground Attraction member Mark Nevin.

Since 1999 Beaujolais has placed a greater emphasis on straight ahead jazz setting up his own Stay Tuned label to document his output.  He has since released a number of albums in either a quartet or quintet format  beginning with 1999’s “Old Times” and progressing through “I’ll See You Tonight” (2003), “Sentimental” (2005) “Blue Reflections” (2007) and “Mind The Gap” (2013).

“Sunset”, his latest offering features the core quartet that appeared on “Mind The Gap” with Robin Aspland on piano, Simon Thorpe on double bass and Winston Clifford at the drums. Previous albums have included contributions from guests such as saxophonist Mark Lockheart and percussionist Oli Savill but this time round all the music is performed exclusively by the quartet.

The programme comprises of six original pieces by Beaujoais plus compositions by Cole Porter, Bobby Hutcherson and Jerome Kern.

The sound of Thorpe’s bass ushers in the opening “Unlucky For Some”, a hard driving Beaujolais original featuring lively and imaginative solos from both the composer and pianist Aspland as Thorpe and drummer Clifford provide a propulsive and impressive rhythmic impetus. These two also enjoy an engaging bass and drum dialogue in the tune’s latter stages.

The Beaujolais original “Benign Tonight” is rather less gentle than its title might suggest. Instead it’s a tautly energetic and dynamic piece structured along modal lines and featuring some sparkling and dynamic interplay between Beaujolais and Clifford. Aspland also shines with a tumbling piano solo that is chock full of ideas and Clifford’s drums briefly muscle their way into the limelight. It’s a hugely invigorating quartet performance.

The expected gentleness finally comes with the dreamy ballad “And When You Smile”, an unhurried eight and a half minute performance that sees Beaujolais adopting a softer, more lyrical tone on the vibes as he stretches out. Aspland, surely one of the UK’s most versatile and underrated pianists, displays the kind of sensitivity that has made him such a sought after accompanist to vocalists such as Anita Wardell, Georgia Mancio and Trudy Kerr. Clifford’s quietly energetic brush and stick work also adds much of interest.

A relaxed, but still swinging and energetic take on Cole Porter’s “I Love You” is a celebration of orthodox jazz virtues with lively features for all four members of the group with pithy solos from Beaujolais, Aspland and Thorpe before Clifford exchanges fours with his colleagues. 

“In The Meantime” is a second Beaujolais ballad, a mellow, languid composition with something of the feel of a jazz standard. The floaty sound of the composer’s unaccompanied vibes introduce the piece and Beaujolais takes the first solo, sympathetically and sensitively supported by the rest of the group with Clifford’s deft brushwork a particular delight. Aspland is at his most lyrical with a flowing solo and Thorpe exhibits great melodic sense on his warm toned bass solo.

The great American vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson (born 1941) died in August 2016, just a month before the Beaujolais quartet went into the studios to record “Sunset”. Hutcherson was an acknowledged influence on Beaujolais and the British musician pays tribute with a delightful version of Hutcherson’s jazz waltz “Little B’s Poem”, written by Hutcherson in 1962 for his then infant son, Barry. It’s a relaxed performance that retains something of the overall feel of the previous ballad although Beaujolais’ solo is both agile and inventive, as are the features from both Aspland and Thorpe.

Beaujolais’ own “Round The Houses” is more taut and angular and features more excellent interplay between Beaujolais and Clifford plus a sparkling solo from Aspland who stretches out joyously. Clifford gets to enjoy a series of exhilarating drum breaks. Rooted in the bebop era it’s the kind of performance that Hutcherson himself might have been proud of.

An all round talent Beaujolais also snapped the photograph that adorns the album cover and gives its name to the title track. The warmth of the music reflects the roseate glow of the cover image with the leader’s mellow tone on vibes presaging a wonderfully melodic bass solo from Thorpe.
Beaujolais then solos at greater length followed by the consistently excellent Aspland.

The album concludes with a bustling, up-tempo reading of Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays” with features from all four members of the group. Beaujolais dazzles at the vibes followed by Aspland at the piano then Thorpe at the bass who enjoys a series of scintillating exchanges with Clifford.

Although there are no real surprises here “Sunset” is a very classy piece of work that will help to consolidate Beaujolais’ reputation as one of the best loved musicians on the UK jazz scene. Beajolais has contributed six engaging original pieces to a well programmed collection and the outside material is well chosen, with the Hutcherson piece carrying a poignant extra resonance.

The playing, from a regular working band, is excellent throughout and the musicians are well served by producer Beaujolais and an engineering team of George Murphy and ‘Deptford’ Dave Pine. This is a quartet that is guaranteed to be an exciting and entertaining live attraction. Details of forthcoming gigs can be found at http://www.rogerbeaujolais.com


COMMENTS:

From Wendy Kirkland via Facebook;

If you haven’t already done so, check out the excellent new album from Roger Beaujolais that has just been reviewed by Ian Mann on his superbly informative and user friendly jazz website. We’ve had our copy since the last appearance of Roger at Chesterfield Jazz and it’s been played daily. We love it.


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