Jon Lloyd - Four and Five (CD Hat Hut Records)

Brighton's fortnightly SafeHouse has been an exciting little venue where improv and free-jazz musicians (and non-musicians) have come together to try things out. The likes of Martin Archer, Roger Turner and Lol Coxhill have presented engaging and -in the case of Coxhill- moving performances. It's also been a bit of a revelation for me seeing many musicians who I'd never even heard of before. One of them is Jon Lloyd who played earlier in the year with his reformed line up featuring Gus Garside on double bass and Dave Fowler on drums. the last time they'd played together was 20 odd years earlier and yet it was phenomenally tight. Some things are meant to be. 

Skipping back to 1999, when this album was released, Lloyd had an altogether different line up. Centering on the core of Lloyd on alto and soprano sax, Stan Adler on cello, Marcio Mattos on double bass and Paul Clarvis on percussion, the post-bop melodics and interplay between the strings players form a fine springboard for Lloyd's Coleman-like sax to fill the air with tonal colours. He's a seductive bugger with that soprano sax. He's even cheeky enough to take on Duke Ellington's 'Take the Coltrane.' 

Lyrical and musical, it may not be aesthetically challenging (in our days of grim cynicism) but musically it's adventurous and joyous. The seven tracks here flow from melody to improvisation and back again with ease (for the listener.) 

Recorded at Gateway Studio in Kingston, where AMM and others have also worked. The album comes packaged in a fold-out card wallet with a keen eye on graphic design. Limited to 3000 copies. HM

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