I have been fascinated and enthralled by this album since it arrived, and I can do no more than recommend that this is music that is to be discovered and enjoyed in all its beauty and inventiveness.

Tall Guy Records TGCD011

Martin Pyne (drums / composition); David Beebee (piano); Marianne Windham (double bass)

One of the great pleasures in listening to jazz for me is just when you think that you have the measure of the music something crops up and catches you by surprise. This can be in the form of a new group, a particular set of compositions that made a connection, or hearing new music in a format that you thought you knew well and held few surprises. Or, in the case of this debut album from Small Blue, all of the above.

The musical mastermind behind this intimate and wonderful trio is drummer and percussionist Martin Pyne. Well known as a quietly adventuress musician working on the fringes of the improvised music and can be heard performing solo sets, accompanying silent films and working with contemporary dance.

A versatile performer, Pyne is not averse to dipping his toe in the calmer waters of more straight-ahead jazz as evidenced in two fine releases with his quartet in A New Pavan and Rickety Racket. These two recordings revealed not only a fine small group drummer, but also a composer of rare talent.

Again wanting to embrace a small group, Pyne has formed the trio heard on this excellent album with bassist Marianne Windham who made such a vital contribution ot the quartet albums, and pianist David Beebee. Pyne has also written twelve exceptional compositions for the new group that immediately gives the trio an identity and repertoire that marks them out as rather something special.

The album opens with a strong statement of intent in the lovely ‘Three for 3 A.M’ that feaures a fine solo from Wyndham and follows this with the jungle feel of ‘Cherry Pie’ and is not the only track on the album that has an air of  Ellingtonia about it. The same gentle air of assurance and regality can also be felt in ‘Askum’ and ‘Song for Circe’ after another compelling statement from Windham and is reminiscent of Juan Tizol’s ‘Caravan’.

The music is often of an intimate nature, and the trio work beautifully together.’ Seeking Refuge’ maybe melancholy and poignant, but there is no getting away from the empathy of the three musicians or the fragile beauty in Pyne’s composition. This is also true of ‘Song for Marty South’, and Beebee’s touch at the piano, here and throughout is a joy.

I could go onto with an analysis of each of the tracks, but to do so robs the music of some of the mystery and delight for the new listener discovering it for themselves. I have been fascinated and enthralled by this album since it arrived, and I can do no more than recommend that this is music that is to be discovered and enjoyed in all its beauty and inventiveness.