Iain Ballamy’s Anorak - More Jazz

Basho Records SRCD 22-2    ****
Iain Ballamy (ts), Gareth Williams (p), Orlando Le Fleming (b) and Martin France (d).

Iain Ballamy’s Anorak - More Jazz
I’ve not heard Anorak live, but this album makes me want to rectify this oversight right away. This robust, yet thoughtful album sees Ballamy taking on the jazz mainstream on his own terms. It is an affectionate love letter to the jazz styles of the 1950s and 1960s which drew him into jazz, but refracted and gently distorted through the prism of his wide musical experiences (which would take several pages of closely written A4 to describe). Ubiquity on the UK scene does mean we sometimes pigeonhole artists in this little box or that little box, and Ballamy systematically goes about showing how wrong this typecasting can be in general and undoing any preconceptions you may have about him (quirky humour) in particular.

Listen to his solo on the altered blues “The Worm” – has Ballamy ever played the blues on record before – I don’t think so. Yet it’s an odd sort of blues, 12 bars OK, but two lots of 12 bars using descending and ascending whole tones. Fascinating. And the way he captures the spirit of John Coltrane on ‘Tribute to Alan Skidmore’s Tribute to John Coltrane’ without becoming a clone, or his deconstruction of ‘I Got Rhythm’ that point to an enormously accomplished jazz musician.  Stuart Nicholson