wholly satisfying album and a little bit of UK jazz history to boot in what would turn out be the only recording from this fine group.
Cadillac SGCCD 022
Keith Bailey (drums); Ernest Mothle (bass); Frank Roberts (piano); Jim Dvorak (trumpet); Chris Francis (alto saxophone)
Recorded 22 March 1976
This self-titled album by the quintet known as Joy is just that. Active in the 1970s this was an important time for British jazz, and this group’s contribution should not be overlooked.
In a decade that witnessed a plethora of talent we witnessed the coming of age of seminal players such as John Surman, Mile Osborne, Mike Westbrook, Keith Tippett and Neil Ardley, along with fine groups in Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath and Harry Beckett’s Isotope.
And not forgetting bands led by Keith Bailey, the drummer on this recording, with Orbit and Prana.
To encourage this thriving and vibrant musical scene was not easy. As oft reported, gigs were in short supply and as means to earn a living many musicians played in multiple bands, and this would bring with it a cross fertilisation of ideas and personalities that would give each of groups their own distinctive sound and personality.
One of the traits that came out of this fertile musical situation was a lack of ego. Everybody played for each other, and this would create some exciting and powerful music.
From small groups to big bands and everything in between, structured and elaborate compositions to free improvisation all were welcomed among the musicians with open arms.
An introduction from Aexis Korner brought together drummer Keith Bailey and saxophonist Chris Francis and from their initial meeting of musical minds the group Joy was formulated.
With an emphasis on strong compositions from within the band with an emphasis on strong melodies and a solid rhythmic foundation.
The opening ‘Martini Sweet’ is a perfect example and get the album off to a cracking start with some tight unison playing from the horns. Chris Francis’s alto solo pushes at the boundaries before easing back into the originally stated feel of the piece.
An excellent solo from pianist Frank Roberts follows punctuated by horn riffs, but just listen to Ernest Mothle’s bass line. Groove laden, propulsive and melodic but also hinting at new possibilities, and this is indicative of the music throughout this wonderful album.
As a contrast, there is a quiet urgency to ‘Koko-v-Dank’ by trumpeter Jim Dvorak who also contributes a lovely solo. Chris Francis also takes a strong solo that retains the mood set up by the trumpeter.
Mothle also has a big part to play as his bass solo segues into ‘Do You Know The Way’ in a piece where the punchy theme recalls Horace Silver. The music progresses through a more relaxed groove and more open solo from Dvorak.
The strong sense of a group identity that has permeated throughout is brought to the fore once again in another Dvorak composition ‘Jak’s Travels’ that brings out another fine solo from the trumpeter and Frank Roberts on piano.
The pianist also shines on his own composition ‘Forbidden Flight’ in which the rhythm section gets the first three minutes to themselves before the horns enter, and the original album release closes with another piece by the pianist which again takes its cue from Horace Silver.
Mention must be made of Chris Francis’s tune ‘You’ which did not make it onto the original LP. Why this should be so is a bit of a mystery as this is a smartly presented and eloquent piece that elicits a sinewy solo from the altoist.
The CD is rounded out by three alternative takes, one a piece of ‘Koko-v-Dank’, ‘Do You Know The Way’ and ‘Spirals’, thus concluding a wholly satisfying album and a little bit of UK jazz history to boot in what would turn out be the only recording from this fine group.