by Ian Mann
July 28, 2020
Rose’s compositions reveal hidden twists and turns, combining attractive but inventive melodies with rhythms that are far from clichéd or obvious.
“Fact & Opinion”
(Self Released, TRCD001)
Tim Rose – guitars, keyboards, Graeme Flowers – trumpet, Phil Donnelly – electric bass, John Humphrey – drums
This self released recording is the second solo album from the London based guitarist, composer and occasional keyboard player Tim Rose.
It follows 2016’s “Outlook”, which was released on saxophonist Paul Booth’s Pathway label and featured a septet comprising of Rose and Booth, plus Graeme Flowers on trumpet, Dave Whitford on acoustic bass, Chris Wong on electric bass, Ryan Alex Farmery on Rhodes, and John Humphrey at the drums.
“Outlook” drew on influences from both jazz and rock, among them Kenny Wheeler, Weather Report and cult prog rock act Gentle Giant.
For his second solo offering Rose has opted for a pared down quartet line up, retaining the services of Flower and Humphrey and adding Phil Donnelly on bass. Donnelly also functions as part of the engineering team, alongside Rose and Nick Pugh.
As a freelance guitarist Rose has worked across a variety of musical genres and has performed with Toyah Wilcox, Shirley Bassey, Carol Decker, Al Martino, Brendan Cole and The Philharmonia Orchestra among many others.
He has also played in the pit band for several leading West End shows, among them Grease, Thriller Live, Jersey Boys, Wicked, Kinky Boots, The Book of Mormon and Beautiful.
In addition to his session and theatre work Rose has always considered himself to be a composer, drawing on a variety of rock and jazz styles including fusion, funk, r’n’b, and prog rock, with the sound of the ECM label also featuring as a named influence.
Rose has performed in a guitar duo with Andy Philip and was once part of the fusion quartet Raging Hormones, alongside bassist Steve Richardson, drummer Seb Guard and saxophonist Richard Beesley. With Richardson acting as engineer and producer this group recorded an album of original material back in 2004/5.
Rose’s funk and fusion leanings are again in evidence throughout the eight original compositions that form the programme of “Fact & Opinion”, although not overwhelmingly so.
Opener “Minus Touch” features an undulating groove and contrasts Flowers’ trumpet lyricism with the grittier sound of the leader’s guitar. Rose also doubles on keyboards to supply additional colour and texture. As the momentum of the piece increases the bass and drum grooves acquire a harder, funkier edge, but remain supple and inventive. These, in turn, spur Flowers to fresh heights, his solo becoming more fiery as it progresses, but without losing any of its essential fluency. The trumpeter is very much at home in musical situations such as these, having been a regular guest performer with guitarist Clement Regert’s Wild Card trio over a number of years.
“Only Enemies” is more reflective and finds Rose making judicious use of his range of guitar FX. Flowers plays with a considered eloquence, his tone almost flugel like at times, again suggesting the influence of the late, great Kenny Wheeler. Rose’s solo combines clean, clearly delineated melody lines with pedal generated swells. Meanwhile Donnelly’s melodic electric bass lines weave their way in and out of the mix, forming an intriguing counterpoint to the other instruments.
“The Spider” bristles with a controlled intensity, expressed through powerful solos from both Rose and Flowers. Rose’s playing has evoked justifiable comparisons with John Scofield, but here I also detected something of the late, great Allan Holdsworth in his sound. A word here, too, for Donnelly and Rose, who handle the numerous twists and turns of the composition with considerable alacrity.
“No Poultry” is the most overtly funky track thus far with a strutting electric bass groove, courtesy of Donnelly, and a sturdy back beat from Humphrey. This evolves into more of a shuffle and helps to fuel the solos from Rose and Flowers, each a fluent excursion bolstered by the powerful syncopations of the groove. Rose again provides keyboard colourations, approximating the sound of a Hammond at times.
There’s slight slowing of the pace with “Another Challenge”, which features the sound of Flowers on muted trumpet and sounding suitably Miles-ian, before switching to the open bell for his solo. Rose, whose intelligent comping and chording is also a feature of his playing, then takes over the mantle of soloist, soaring and spiralling, before combining effectively with Flowers as Donnelly and Humphrey supply unobtrusive but subtly propulsive support.
It’s possible that the title of “Pat” may be a tribute to Mr. Metheny, but Rose is at pains not to sound too much like the American on a cleanly picked solo that nevertheless displays something of Metheny’s melodic inventiveness. The track is also notable for the wonderful soloing of Flowers, whose clarity of tone and overall fluency and inventiveness is genuinely impressive. There’s also something of a feature for the consistently excellent Humphrey during the closing stages of the piece.
“Ergonomics” is arguably the most ambitious composition on the recording with the sounds of guitar, keyboards and trumpet here creating something more integrated or ‘orchestral’. The rhythm section respond to this with characteristic flexibility and there is also room for some typically imaginative soloing from Rose and Flowers.
The album concludes on an upbeat note with the joyous melodies and infectious grooves of “Langdale”. This finds the quartet exploring funk territory once more, mainly courtesy of Donnelly’s bass, but there are other elements at play too in a multi-faceted composition that incorporates more fine soloing from Flowers and Rose, the latter stretching out above a restlessly funky backdrop.
A cursory spinning of “Fact & Opinion” might suggest that this is a run of the mill funk and fusion album, but closer listening reveals that this is emphatically not the case. Rose’s compositions reveal hidden twists and turns, combining attractive but inventive melodies with rhythms that are far from clichéd or obvious.
Everybody plays well and it’s easy to see why the versatile Rose is in such great demand as a session player. Flowers performs with great invention and fluency throughout and the contribution of the highly adaptable rhythm team shouldn’t be overlooked. The engineering and production team also help to ensure that the musicians are heard at their best.
One could argue that there’s nothing particularly new here, but nevertheless I found myself thoroughly enjoying this recording, thanks to the quality of both the writing and the performances.
In the event that things ever get back to normal after the Covid-19 pandemic one suspects that this quartet would also prove to an exciting and highly accomplished live act.
Tim Rose’s website; http://www.timroseguitar.co.uk
Album available from; http://www.timroseguitar.bandcamp.com
From Tim Rose via email;
That’s a very nice review. Well spotted with the Allan Holdsworth vibe on ‘The Spider’. It was actually written as a tribute to him soon after he died, though I would never actually try to emulate his truly unique playing.
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