Monday, 30 July 2018

Tower of Power - Soul Side of Town, album review

Empathetic Shout-Out

The title track is a tower of funk and strut and, naturally, soul, the horns making the fifty years of this consummate ensemble such a blast, Doc’s baritone sax laying down pulses and Castillo’s tenor drawing structural lines as solo and overall support, these two the remaining members of the original incarnation.

I’m no expert on the history of this powerhouse band, but cannot fail to know of them and to revel in this exposition of all before and continuing now. Ray Green and Marcus Scott provide great vocals, from the sass of Hangin’ with My Baby to the prettiness of ballad Love Must Be Patient and Kind.

I saw them recently on Later….with Jools and, as I recall, on a programme not particularly igniting by newer acts [rare, and no criticism of those then] Tower of Power live stonked a stonking couple of numbers, old-school and schooled in sublime horn-funked, organ-pumped, guitar-ripped, sax-sassed and vocal-ripped strut [I’m listening as I write and the words spill out in empathy, I trust].

Friday, 27 July 2018

Steve Tilston - Distant Days, album review

Redolent and Refreshed
The Road When I Was Young is the wonderful 2008 song that opens this album of revisits to Steve Tilston’s illustrious back catalogue, the lyrics my first song it still lingers…and I did stand in line with the folksingers so apt for the memorable music he has written and performed over the many years.

My previous reviews of several of his albums, and seeing him the once live in 2015, can be found here, and these should additionally speak to the extremely high regard I have for his music and playing. This collection therefore needs little extra detail other than to further wax lyrical over the sublime guitar work and singing you will hear – that vocal sounding as pristine as ever, and also remarkably youthful and reminiscent of his earliest work. Mentioned quite rightly as a guitarist in the same breath as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Wizz Jones, Tilston continues to impress as well as keep alive this lineage of folk greatness – listen to the wonderful finger picking and sudden descending chord shifts in All in a Dream; range with the banjo in – as one should hear – Let Your Banjo Ring; the instrumental Shinjuku from 1971’s An Acoustic Confusion with some typically fine runs.

It’s Not My Place to Fall and I Really Wanted You are also from An Acoustic Confusion and are, as ever, gorgeous to hear, and the album has nineteen tracks in all and each is beautifully redolent of the past as much as a reminder of how brightly class still shines today, not least in the timeless performance Tilston displays throughout. 

Friday, 20 July 2018

Renato D'Aiello - Blue Vanguard, Gipsy Hill Hotel, Exeter - 19th July, 2018


Another fine night of jazz at the Blue Vanguard with guest saxophonist Renato D’Aiello, the UK based Italian player who must be enjoying our summer even though he has claimed he lives here for the weather, not particularly liking the heat of ‘home’, and probably does a fine cover of Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.

He is a sublime player, reminding me at times of the breathy style of Benny Golson [my touchstone range isn’t huge but this is a genuine feeling], especially on the ballads, two gorgeous ones played last night, the second the Gordon Burdge / J. Russel Robinson Portrait of Jennie.

As ever, and as ever I will present this anaphora [I’ve been marking Lit papers…], the Blue Vanguard Trio was also superb, Coach York and Al Swainger consistently providing their two thirds of the sterling worth, and I only separate this time round in reviewing as Craig Milverton and Renato did share a particular rapport in their playing – a symbiosis in musicianship as well as physical proximity: Renato touchingly often playing very close to Craig, if you’ll excuse the punning indulgence – and it would seem obvious they share a deep friendship as well as their musical closeness.

Photos by Tim
Forthcoming events look like more of the excellent same. Brilliant.