Review of Grass – Music by Other People

by Ian Mann, 5th Sept. 2006

Music By Other People was recorded back in 1999 by the group Grass and features Ford together with saxophonist Jack Arnold, bassist Ben Hazleton and a very young Sebastian Rochford on drums, probably one of his earliest recordings. The group cover four compositions by jazz masters Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. They present an interesting version of these works delivering them in a laid back ECM style, caressing the melodies and rarely getting too animated. Rochford’s drumming is sensitive and tasteful and only rarely does he give a hint of the fireworks he was later to unleash with Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland. Ellington’s Take The Coltrane features his most aggressive playing and also contains a probing, percussive solo from Ford.

Elsewhere Mingus’ Duke Ellington’s Sound Of Love unfolds slowly with Arnold’s languorous tenor sax, Hazleton’s low register bass growl and Rochford’s sympathetic brush work. Ford takes a gentle but exploratory solo and provides sensitive accompaniment.

A quirky take on Ellington’s Caravan manages to cover a range of moods and tempos and shows the flexibility of all the members of the band.

Coltrane’s Dear Lord combines the ECM approach with a gospel feel. Arnold’s assured playing is well to the fore, with good support from the rest of the group.

This is an interesting recording which transcends its slightly lo-fi production to reveal something fresh each time you listen to it. At just under half an hour in length it is probably best thought of as a mini album and is a good taster for Ford’s later work and is an interesting snapshot of the early works of Rochford and Hazleton.

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