Review of Songs

by Ian Mann, 5th Sept. 2006

Songs was recorded in 2002 and is a full-length album which finds Ford in a piano trio with bassist Max De Wardener and drummer Iain Pattinson. Rather than tackle traditional jazz standards the trio prefer to concentrate on more modern material mainly written in the 1960’s/70’s and with roots in American folk and gospel music.

They start with Joni Mitchell’s All I Want. Next up are Jim Webb’s Wichita Lineman and Bob Dylan’s My Back Pages. The trio play the songs with a strong emphasis on melody and with a genuine gospel feel and make great use of the spaces between the notes. There is a sense of joy and exploration in their music making. The melodies are unadorned; Ford is not into subverting songs in the manner of Brad Mehldau. However, there is nothing bland about the playing, this is a million miles away from cocktail lounge or elevator music.

The album also features song like compositions from modern jazz composers and instrumentalists. These include Krzysztof Komeda’s Sleep Safe And Warm (the theme from Rosemary’s Baby) Gary Peacock’s Vignette and Bill Frisell’s Winter Turns To Spring.

To complete the ten-track recording John Lennon’s Jealous Guy and Willie Nelson’s You Were Always On My Mind are also present together with the hymn Just A Closer Walk With Thee which closes the album.

It’s a fascinating mix, superbly played by Ford and his colleagues and their love of the material can be heard in every note. This is certainly the most enjoyable and accessible of the three albums and one that I would recommend to everybody.

Following these wide ranging and distinctive recordings his next move will be awaited with interest. In the meantime get to hear Songs if you can.

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