Joe Webb – ‘Summer Chill’ – London Jazz News
Joe Webb– summer cold
(Ubuntu Music. Album review by Denny Ilett)
As jazz struggled to retain its relevance in the 1960s, and whether by desire or insistence from record companies, artists began to release music with a more “commercial” musical angle. One thinks of Ellington’s “Mary Poppins” suite and Basie’s Beatles and Bond-themed albums. Louis Armstrong released an album of Disney songs. Then there were the pop-jazz-soul recordings of Wes Montgomery, Ramsey Lewis, Jimmy Smith and a host of others bringing contemporary pop sounds to jazz. You could even say that Coltrane’s recordings of “My Favorite Things” from The sound of music and “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had an eye on record sales outside of the usual jazz record-buying audience.
It’s a period often derided by critics and musicians alike, but the fact remains that it kept musicians hard at work and, more importantly, honored the tradition of jazz artists covering themes popular and reworking them; a tradition that dates back to the 1920s.
Enter pianist Joe Webba young virtuoso who’s been making the proverbial jaw drop for a while now, whether through his work with the Kansas Smitty Ensemble or his own Webb City, a trio that honors greats like Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and Nat ‘King’ Cole .
summer cold, his new project, is an unapologetic nod to the pop-jazz era of the 60s and, as he puts it, bills itself as the “soundtrack to a 60s pool party”. The band consists of Webb himself on piano and organ alongside guitarist Alex Hainesbass player Does Sachdrummer Jas Kayserpercussionist Joao Caetano and saxophonist Fraser Smith.
The sextet plays with a joyful abandon that we would rather see in today’s jazz. The music is fun, uplifting and perfectly played, reminiscent of when jazz was played for dancers; purely for entertainment.
A Bourbon Street-inspired “You Are My Sunshine,” for example, would make Dr. John very happy. The funk-Latin interpretation of “Comin’ Home Baby” presented here does not miss the famous voice of Mel Tormé; the same goes for “Yeah Yeah” by Georgie Fame. The conga-driven swing on Basie’s “Corner Pocket” is reminiscent of one of those great Village Vanguard or Blue Note club recordings with only the clink of glasses and a soft whisper missing to make the scene complete. Clovers’ R&B classic “One Mint Julep” makes the band sound like they’re on the set of Our flint man with Fraser Smith channeling Plas Johnson beautifully.
“Money In The Pocket” by Joe Zawinul, written while he was a member of the Cannonball Adderley quintet, sticks quite faithfully to his original concept of Boogaloo; Haines and Caetano, in the spotlight, taking extended solos.
The album’s closing track “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, first heard in the Elvis Presley movie blue hawaii, here gets the gospel treatment with Joe Webb dueting with himself on piano and Hammond organ; a quiet way to end after the previous nine catchy tracks.
summer cold definitely has a place in today’s jazz scene. Times critic Clive Davis said nearly a decade ago, when reviewing New Orleans singer Lillian Boutté at Ronnie Scott, that her entertainment style was out of fashion, but that musicians would do well to listen and learn. He goes on to say that for jazz to hold its audience, “abstrue chords” would not be enough!
Joe Webb and Summer Chill will launch their new album at the 100 Club in London on August 1. Put on a loud shirt and flares and go!
Summer Chill is out June 24.
CONNECTIONS: 100 club reservations