Pete Neighbour (hence the title) is a wonderful clarinetist, and his new CD, BACK IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD, is a consistent delight.
Before you think, “If this fellow is so good, why haven’t I heard of him before?” put that thought to rest. You have. Here. And you can click here to hear some sound samples from this new CD and to learn more about this session. For those who feel disinclined to click, here are the details of the sixty-four minutes and seven seconds. The compositions are I WANT TO BE HAPPY / BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS / I MAY BE WRONG / YOU MAKE ME FEEL SO YOUNG / OPUS ONE / COME SUNDAY / LIZA / WHAT WILL I TELL MY HEART? / TEACH ME TONIGHT / WILLOW WEEP FOR ME / A FOGGY DAY / AFTER YOU’VE GONE. (I would start my listening session with BOULEVARD, which is a feathery, pensive masterpiece.)
The disc was recorded in London in September 2014; Pete appears with Jim Mullen, guitar; David Newton, piano; Nat Steele, vibraphone; Andrew Cleyndert, bass; Tom Gordon, drums. Louise Cookman makes a guest vocal appearance on YOU MAKE ME FEEL SO YOUNG and WHAT WILL I TELL MY HEART?
Aside from a few rousers, the whole CD is carried off as a series of medium / medium-fast rhythm performances, where the band superbly rocks, quietly and persuasively. Pete himself is a great lyrical player — hear his touching COME SUNDAY, which has a dear pulse but retains its hymnlike aspect. And he resolutely chooses to sound like himself, although he is clearly inspired by Benny and Buddy — with a sidelong glance at Ken. His approach, although he has technique to make any clarinetist consider bringing the instrument in for a trade, is not in rapid-fire flurries of notes. Rather, Pete (in the best heroic way) constructs logical long-limbed phrases and sweet solos out of those phrases, everything fitting together in a way that sounds fully improvised but is also compositionally satisfying. And the tempos chosen caress the songs rather than attacking the hearer. The rest of the band is quite wonderful, and each number unfolds in its own fashion without ever being predictable. The session has the gentle exploratory air of a late Ruby Braff recording, as the band continually changes shape into duos and trios — with echoes of Dave McKenna and Ellis Larkins in the duets incorporating Newton’s piano. Louise Cookman, whom I’d not heard before, is a wonder: gently memorable on her two guest appearances.
For more about Pete, here is his Facebook page.
This very well-produced and reassuring CD is available through the usual sources, but here is an easy place to purchase one. Or several, from the best musical Neighbour.
May your happiness increase!