As a listener it is nice to be able to eavesdrop on proceedings, as the music transports the musicians and the assembled audience through a musical maze that appears to have no beginning or end.

Cordial Records CORDLP104 / CORDLP105

Cost of:

Julian Nicholas (saxophones, clarinets, whistles); Mark Edwards (piano & keyboards); Thad Kelly (bass); Mike Pickering (drums); Simon Robinson (keyboards on “Hard Hats”) -Recorded February 1997 & Originally released on the album “Heavy Plant Crossing”

Julian Nicholas (soprano & tenor saxophones); Mark Edwards (piano & keyboards); John Bedford (bass); Dave Wickins (drums)

Julian Nicholas (alto saxophone); Mark Edwards (piano); Dave Whitford (bass); Dave Trigwell (drums); Simon Robinson (synthesizers) – Previously unreleased

Love:

Julian Nicholas (tenor & soprano saxophones, penny whistle & ‘zoom’ effects); Terry Seabrook (keyboards); Thad Kelly (double bass); Mike Pickering (drums & cymbals); Geoff Hearne (soprano saxophone, bamboo flute); Danny D’Azevedo (shakers & hand percussion); Dawne Adams (congas & hand percussion); Gareth McGahan (kora, Mbira & berimbau); Adé (okonkoló bätá); Séwànü (itótèle bätá) – Recorded 1995 & previously unreleased

Following the release of Rising in February of this year, here we have the other two LPs that make up the trilogy of albums from saxophonist Julian Nicholas under the combined title of Rising Cost of Love.

It is much to the credit of Roual Galloway of Cordial Recordings to commit to such an undertaking. To release any one of the albums would have been a noteworthy project, but to release three titles by an artist of music recorded over a five-year period between 1992 and 1997 is not for the faint hearted.

A lot of hard work has gone into the production of these albums as the label had access to all the music that Nicholas had recorded and released on a casual basis for sale at gigs. Such is the quality of the music the problem would inevitably what to leave out and what to press onto the three limited edition LPs.

Julian Nicholas has always been a most thoughtful composer and improviser, unashamedly following paths trodden by musicians who have influenced him and always managing to put his own stamp on the music.

Taken out of chronological order, Cost Of comprises of music performed and recorded in 1997 with the sessions on Love made two years earlier. The music from 1997 follows in a similar vein to that of Rising made five years prior with a relatively straight forward quartet. Synthesizer parts were added later, along with some postproduction overdubs for the horns.

Four of the six tracks were released as Heavy Plant Crossing, while Pat Metheny’s ‘James’ and ‘Let’s Assume It’s So’ are previously unreleased. The former is given a lively reading with Nicholas’s lovely tone on soprano is given full reign, along with a fine piano solo from Mark Edwards, while the latter has two solos from the leader firstly on soprano and then a tough and authoritative outing on tenor.

A solid groove and rhythmic drive permeate ‘There’s Nowt So Queer As Folk’ and there’s an enigmatic feel as one would expect from the Shorter influenced ‘Weeping and Wayning’ that has a beguiling theme and some solid arranging that enhance the overall concept of the piece.

Two years earlier, the music being made in and around Julian Nicholas’s Brighten address was a very different proposition. Incorporating world music and fusion with the same ‘core band’, the music is still based on Julian’s compositions but also flexible enough to work in a more freely improvised capacity. This time drawing inspiration from the early Weather Report and the fusion music of Miles Davis along with South African township music and the West African drum tradition.

With the addition of Nigerian bätá drummers the written music took on a life of its own, and extended passage of improvisation an integral part of the musical experience, so much so that Love is a freely improvised groove that ebbs and flows with the musicians free to step in and play or simply sit out and listen. With no queueing up of soloists, the music moves of its own accord inviting contributions that maybe fleeting or of longer duration if felt appropriate. As a listener it is nice to be able to eavesdrop on proceedings, as the music transports the musicians and the assembled audience through a musical maze that appears to have no beginning or end.

Making this music available is not a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but a reminder of the vibrancy of the jazz that was being made at the time, and that continues to flourish in and around the Brighton area.  A central figure in the music, it is certain that Julian Nicholas will not be resting on his laurels and is probably already honing some new music that further consolidate his reputation as one of the UKs most original voices.