CD: Lenore Raphael, Wayne Wilkinson and Chris Hodgkins at PizzaExpress Live, Dean Street, London

The album is released on the 1st July 2017. Albums can be purchased direct from Chris at chris.hodgkins3@googlemail.com. The cost is £11 including postage and packing.Or direct via PayPal at http://www.chrishodgkins.co.uk/recordingsreviews/  The album is also available on digital services, please see online sales links above at http://www.chrishodgkins.co.uk/recordingsreviews/

You can hear tracks from the album below:

September In The Rain

Talk Of The Town

Georgia On My Mind

Alone Together

When It’s Sleepy Time Down South

Bell CDs 517

Lenore Raphael, Wayne Wilkinson & Chris Hodgins at PizzaExpress Live Dean Street, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 September In The Rain 4:21
2 Talk Of The Town 7:10
3 Taking A Chance On Love 4:10
4 Alone Together 6:16
5 Every Thing Happens To Me 4:28
6 I Only Have Eyes For You 4:11
7 When It’s Sleepy Time Down South 2:45
8 Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams 3:40
9 But Not For Me 3:58
10 Georgia On My Mind 4:26
11 PE Blues 3:36
12 Careless Love 3:17
13 Bernie’s Tune 3:35

Total time: 55:53

Reviews

“Jazz critics have compared her to Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and even Thelonious Monk, but with all these influences, Lenore Raphael is just ONE thing … a great pianist!”

Ricky Miller, JazzUSA

“Lenora Raphael, Wayne Wilkinson Chris Hodgkins at the PizzaExpress” is a good natured album with a classy song selection. Chris always keeps the music simple and direct, and it swings!

Joe Paice, Programming Manager, PizzaExpress Live

Liner notes

Maintaining the ‘chops’ to work effectively as a recording and performing musician, requires a rare discipline. Even when Chris Hodgkins operated as the director of Jazz Services until 2014, he could be heard every evening running scales in his office on Southwark Street, where he kept a pocket trumpet specifically for the purpose. Soon after retiring Chris released ‘Back In Your Own Backyard’a CD with fellow Welshman pianist Dave Price, bass players Erika Lyons and Ashley John Long that revisited his roots in the jazz scene of South Wales. Two years later he has returned with another fine album.

This CD began life as a plan for a duo recording with the much admired American pianist,Lenore Raphael. Raphael, a leading exponent of that wonderful blending of swing, bebop and the more advanced harmonic language of Bill Evans, which was the hallmark of pianists like Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan and Ellis Larkins. The elegance of those players too is a cornerstone ofRaphael’s approach. Lenore is also a Steinway Concert Artist.

The addition of Raphael’s regular guitarist Wayne Wilkinson brings an extra percussive edge to the ensemble swing with some Freddy Green-style chording, as well as some impressive soloing – audible from the start on the high energy rendering of Harry Warren’s ‘September in the Rain’,which kicks off the album. Raphael’s ‘Shearingesque’ block chords are another highlight.Chris makes great use of the appealing gravel in his tone in his reading of the nostalgic ‘It’s The Talk Of The Town’. Both he and Wilkinson take well placed detours into double time, which keep the interest going in what is the album’s longest track at just over 7 minutes.

Raphael’s creative introductions are a delight throughout and on ‘Taking A Chance On Love’ she momentarily teases us with suggestions of ‘Surrey With The Fringe On Top’. Her admiration for Oscar Peterson shows itself in both her soloing and her gifts as a sensitive accompanist.Chris switches to the cup mute on Matt Dennis’ lovely ‘Everything Happens To Me’ and another great Warren tune ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’. His bluesy rendition of the melodies on both tracks isfollowed by solos from Raphael and Wilkinson. The guitarist then reprises ‘When It’s Sleepy TimeDown South’ from his own 2014 album ‘It’s A Lark’ in a virtuosic solo performance ‘Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams’ by the singer Harry Barris features some bright playing by Raphael, a one time student of similarly named bebop pianist, Barry Harris, still a regular performer in the Dean Street basement into his late 80s.

Gershwin’s ‘But Not For Me’ is another standout track with persuasive performances from the whole trio in another swinging interpretation of a song that started life as a ballad. Lenore Raphaelgets the chance to stretch out in her solo interpretation of ‘Georgia On My Mind’ – a rootsy, gospel affair that continues the ‘late night blues’ feel. Another beautiful introduction on piano leads into a surprisingly brisk version of ‘Alone Together’,on which Chris sits out. Fine solos by both Raphael and Wilkinson are followed by choruses where they move entertainingly from exchanging eight bar sequences to trading fours.

The earthy vocalising in Chris’ succinct trumpet choruses on the original ‘PE Blues’ shows off just what a good blues player he is, and the trumpet/guitar duet on WC Handy’s ‘Careless Love’reminds us of his early influences. The track is yet another reminder of just how good Wilkinson is too – not surprising I suppose for a guitarist who has performed with everyone from Tony Bennett and Henry Mancini to Michael Brecker and, ahem, Bill Clinton.The album ends with something of a ‘post-bop’ outing for the trio. ‘Bernie’s Tune’ was made famous by the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, and Chris, Lenore and Wayne all have fun playing off the catchy minor theme.

Recorded at the PizzaExpress Jazz Club in November 2016 (and produced by the club’sesteemed sound engineer, Luc Saint-Martin), seems a particularly happy marriage of music and location. The club first made its name in the 1970s and 80s with appearances by countless US mainstream jazz greats. Among the frequent visitors were trumpeters Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Joe Newman, Wild Bill Davison and Ruby Braff, and echoes of each of these can be heard in Chris’ accomplished playing on this easy going set of standards.

The mood of the album reflects the chamber jazz approach that Chris is so fond of. It calls t omind at various times (even with the addition of guitar), the trumpet/piano duets of Oscar Peterson with Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison and Clark Terry, those of Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins, all the way back to that famously early recorded jazz duet ‘Weather Bird’ by Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines. This is a good natured album with a classy song selection. Chris always keeps the music simple and direct, and it swings!

Joseph Paice – Programming Manager – PizzaExpress Live