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Simon Spillett Sienna Red Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

...winning the 2007 Rising Star category in the BBC Jazz Awards...

Martin Longley 2008

After winning the 2007 Rising Star category in the BBC Jazz Awards, tenor saxophonist Simon Spillett now has this very disc up for public voting in the 2008 Best Album section. Fundamentally, it's a representation of what he does onstage, though the fact that this recording can't possibly scale the heights of an in-person experience is some testament to Spillett's blowing power. His ascension over the last few years has been swift, to the point where he's now a serious challenger to reedsman Alan Barnes for the British hard bop sceptre. Woodville is the latter's record label, so here's an endorsement from a fitting source. Of course, there's Peter King and Don Weller to consider too, but there's something about Spillett's approach that aligns him with Barnes.

Spillett is already a veteran of all the prestigious London clubs, and is now throwing himself completely into the establishment of his own quartet's comet-like reputation, boasting the line-up of John Critchinson (piano), Andrew Cleyndert (bass) and Spike Wells (drums). It's impossible to avoid mention of the great Tubby Hayes as Spillett's guiding light in terms of style and attack, but this doesn't mean that he's forsaking the development of a personal vocabulary.

This follow-up to 2007's debut album is as swift as Simon's soloing articulation. He absolutely doesn't dally. On the opening Mini Minor, barely is the theme shot out than the tenorman's skating off on a winding solo, the combo coping well with their own solos, the end result being an introductory portfolio of their wares. It's as if Spillett is attempting to cram life itself into each eight minute outburst. That's about the average tune-length, as extended time is needed to accommodate Simon's spillage. When the songs aren't hurtling at high velocity, they adopt a brash swaying motion, and a ballad spot tends to turn up after every third chaser, just to prove that Spillett is also a sensitive breather. Peace Pipe sounds anything but peaceful. In fact, it's rather more agitated than Rumpus, which has its own staccato flourishes. Spillett saves Oleo until last, and it's a rollercoaster that brooks no argument.

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