For more than twenty years the group Threeway, featuring Steve Waterman on trumpet/flugelhorn, Steve Lodder on piano, Rhodes and Hammond organ and Ben Crosland on electric bass have playing their own brand of melodic jazz.

Next month the group are set to release their new album Harken! Featuring special guest John Etheridge on guitar playing eleven original compositions by members of the group and John Etheridge and a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Black Crow’.

Prior to the launch of the album and the band embarking on some concerts around the UK, Jazz Views invited Threeway to choose their favourite top ten albums. In the interests of democracy, it was decided that each musician would pick three albums a piece and as the nominal leader, Ben Crosland got to pick an extra selection.

Steve Waterman:

Miles Davis – The Complete Concert 1964 (Columbia)

My first introduction to Miles Davis when I was around 17 was his solo on My Funny Valentine from this concert but released in a compilation on LP. From here I discovered the albums “My Funny Valentine”, which were all the slower pieces from this concert and then the album “Four and More” which were the up tempo pieces, both on vinyl. Eventually the CD, Miles Davis The complete Concert 1964 came out with all the pieces in the correct order from this concert at the Philharmonic Hall. Even after listening to this album hundreds of times it still sounds fresh and the interaction between all the musicians is incredible. Miles Davis’ playing on this recording was a huge inspiration for my approach to improvisation.

Kenny Wheeler – Gnu High (ECM)

I discovered this recording not long after it was recorded in 1975. This was the first time I heard not only Kenny Wheeler’s playing but also his composing, both of which have been an important influence on my development. This was also my introduction to the playing of Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland and Jack DeJonette. As with the Miles Davis recording, even after hearing it many times I can still discover something new.

Chet Baker – The Last Great Concert – My Favourite Songs Vol.1 & 2. (Enja)

This is a recording of possibly Chet Baker’s final concert making it even more poignant. It was recorded in 1988 with the NDR Big Band and The Hannover Radio Orchestra. I came to this recording fairly recently when visiting friends in Germany and listened to the complete recording in one sitting, but since I have listened to this many times and am always struck by the beauty of Chet’s playing. On the strength of Chet’s playing on this album I went on to seek out many more of his recordings.

Steve Lodder:

Miles Davis – Bitches Brew (Columbia)

Because he didn’t know how to stand still.

Weather Report – Black Market (Columbia)

It opened the doors on synths and a whole new joyful way of playing.

Gustav Mahler – Symphony No: 9

Because he manages to say all the things I don’t dare.

Ben Crosland:

John Surman – John Surman (Deram 1969)

This album represents my first experience of modern jazz on disc. I had seen John play with Caribbean musicians on television on a programme called, I believe, Late Night Line Up. Yes, jazz used to be on terrestrial TV!! I was so taken with this ‘calypso jazz’ and sought out this record. And indeed, the first side reflected what I had seen on TV. However, the second side was a totally different kettle of fish! It was a suite of three original compositions by Surman featuring the cream of British jazz musicians including Kenny Wheeler, Harry Beckett, Mike Osborne, Dave Holland, Harry Miller, Malcolm Griffiths and Paul Rutherford. It was music that I had never heard the like of before. Modern, difficult at times but totally thrilling. It was the start for me.

Chicago – Chicago Transit Authority (Columbia 1969)

Up to this point in my musical development, I had been immersed in pop, blues and progressive rock but I had no experience of horns being utilised with rock instruments. When I heard the first track on this album, Introduction, for the first time, it was like being hit by an express train. The energy, the sound, the passion were overwhelming. It lit a fire in me for this type of jazz rock that still burns to this day.

Kenny Wheeler – Music for Large and Small Ensembles (ECM 1990)

I had been aware of Kenny Wheeler’s music for a number of years but the release of this record in 1990 brought the wonder of his musical world into sharp technicolour relief for me. His unique compositional style, the way he arranged his beautiful tunes with such imagination, using the wordless voice as an instrument, the way he selected musicians from very different worlds – Duncan Lamont sitting alongside Evan Parker in the sax section as one example – all these factors inspired me to try my hand as a composer of jazz in a serious way. I founded my first group as leader, a Quintet, in this same year and I saw Kenny’s big band with this stellar cast at RNCM also in 1990.

Don Grolnick – The Complete Blue Note Recordings (Blue Note 1997)

I first heard of Don Grolnick when he was interviewed by Charles Fox on BBC Radio 3. He sounded such a lovely man, exactly the sort of chap with whom you could jazz with over a beer. He spoke with such passion and insight. I began to investigate his work and quickly realised that he was a true polymath – pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader. He was James Taylor’s MD for many years. I saw his wonderful Octet in Leeds in 1995. The more I immersed myself in his compositions, the more I realised that he wrote with a precision and mystery that I had never encountered before. Alongside Kenny Wheeler, Don Grolnick is truly inspirational figure for me. These two albums, Nighttown and Weaver of Dreams, encapsulate all that is great about his writing. And Michael Brecker’s liner notes are a joy.

Threeway will be playing the following venues in the coming months:

9 June – Wylde Green URC, Sutton Coldfield (20th Anniversary Concert)

20 June – Coventry Jazz

22 June – Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

23 June – Harwich Festival

8 July – Buxton International Festival with special guest John Etheridge (album launch)

31 October – Davenham Jazz, Cheshire

1 November – St Lucius Church, Farnley Tyas, Huddersfield

2 November – St Gabriel’s Parish Church, Aldersbrook, London

17 November – Ashburton Arts Centre, Newton Abbott

18 November – North Devon Jazz, Bideford

19 November – St Ives Jazz Club

6 December – Bracknell Jazz

Harken! By Threeway with special guest John Etheridge is released on CD and digital download by Jazz Cat Records on Friday 5 July 2024