Jon Thorne and Danny Thompson Watching the Well Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Moments of melancholia as well as rushes of clarity and rapture.

Sid Smith 2010

There are few working musicians around these days who’ve had a career as eclectic as bassist Danny Thompson. Hearing the exquisite blend of lyricism and rhythmic invention that constitutes his playing, it isn’t hard to understand why the man has been in such demand across a professional career spanning five decades.

Still primarily known for his work with Pentangle, his distinctive approach has benefited artists as diverse and as different as Everything but the Girl, Tim Buckley, Nick Drake, John Martyn, Talk Talk, Kate Bush and so many others.

No slouch himself when it comes to playing bass and mixing it up genre-wise, Jon Thorne (who has worked with the likes of guitarist James Yorkston, Lamb and master percussionist Trilok Gurtu) has composed a suite of instrumental settings that provide Thompson with a gracious and supportive environment.

There’s no unnecessary showboating here. Often it’s a brief run at a note; an unexpected harmonic emphasis and push; low-down slides that reach deep into the soul of the music. All provide evidence of Thompson’s ability to get inside a piece and to the heart of the matter.

Thorne’s stated desire was to emulate the glacial sonic space typical of the ECM label’s jazz catalogue. While Watching the Well isn’t a jazz record per se, Thorne’s writing is infused with the same questing, open-ended sensibility found on albums by Jan Garbarek or Eberhard Weber.

The inclusion of muted electronica, ice-cold guitar and sympathetic strings lends the album a cinematic feel, creating a ruminative soundtrack for an imaginary film involving slightly forlorn wide-open landscapes, questioning moments of melancholia as well as rushes of clarity and rapture.

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