A great memorial to a great musician.

Jazz in Britain JB-37 S-CD

Jimmy Hastings – soprano & tenor sax, flute & bass flute OR Brian Smith; Chris Pyne – trombone & valve trombone; Phil Lee – electric guitar, 12 string guitar; John Horler – piano; Paul Bridge – bass; Trevor Tomkins – drums

 CD1 – Recorded May 1980 and May 1981

CD2 – Recorded May 1982 and May 1983

Trevor Tomkins was a marvellous drummer and this release from Trevor’s archive is proof of his skill and artistry.  Trevor died in September 2022. The music on this album is from key British players and composers in the 1980s led by Trevor who never released an album.  This album is Trevor’s debut release as a leader as well as his memorial.

Trevor, of course, played with the Rendell-Carr Quintet. He was partnered throughout by bassist Dave Green, now the only surviving member of the influential quintet.  Dave is quoted as saying: ‘Because of our long association of 59 years (1963 – 2022).  Trevor and I had a very close bond.   He was one of the most musical and listening drummers that I’ve ever played with.  Art Themen said that Trevor had an incomparable CV: Tony Coe, Michael Garrick Groups, Nucleus, Gilgamesh, Barbara Thompson’s Jubiaba, Neil Ardley, Henry Lowther.

Jimmy Hastings is extraordinary.  He seems to have so many musical personas.  He takes the lead on many of the pieces.  His voice on both tenor and soprano is so varied.  Sometimes he sounds like Wayne Shorter, Don Byas, Tony Coe or Paul Gonsalves but in the end, he is Jimmy Hastings.

Six of the pieces are written by Phil Lee but it is his playing that is most memorable.  His playing cuts through, His notes are crystal clear and there is a thoughtful freshness, His harmonising and counterpoint with John Horler is spellbinding.  Listen to the way that Horler and Lee are entwined in the solos on ‘Ballad No 1’.  It is a moment to remember.  On ‘Ugetsu’ Lee has a surging fluidity that is delightful.  There is joy in the way that they work together on ‘GRS’.

Chris Pyne’s trombone solos have a blustering nobility. HIs solo on ‘Summer Night’ is his best work.  The Pyne sound is an essential ingredient in the thoughtful arrangements.

John Horler brings out the suppressed romanticism of ‘Celeste’.  This is the essence of Horler: thoughtful, musical, melodic and lyrical.  On ‘Summer Night’ he is both percussive and reflective.

Trevor Tomkins uses the beginning of ‘For Future Refence’ to emerge to the fore. Just or a moment! Someone pointed out that he is one of the few drummers who had to be persuaded to take a solo. There is enough evidence throughout the two CDs to show his strengths as an accompanist. Listen to Trevor behind Jimmy on ‘GRS’.

The beautiful gatefold digipak is graced with a 32-page booklet by Simon Spillett., He makes the point that Tomkins was born to play music, he was equally destined to teach it to others. Spillett uses his formidable writing and researching skills to create material that outlines why Tomkins was so revered and loved. Spillett also creates a picture of the era that Tomkins flourished in.  This is one of Spillett’s finest portraits of an era.

John Horler says: ‘Sextant was a great example of what Trev believed in above all else.  Music.  No egos were allowed!’  This was a group of friends conversing not competing.  It is a great memorial to a great musician.

Reviewed by Jack Kenny