Danny Thompson – WHATEVER (UK, 1987?)
What is jazz? I’ve spent countless evenings arguing with other jazz fans about the very nature of jazz while guzzling unreasonable quantities of beer, wine, Scotch , rum or whatever else was on the table, with as sole result a serious hangover the next morning. I still can’t define Jazz. This album is a case in point but, who cares eventually? The Duke waved off these academic arguments about jazz with the breezy statement that there is only good music and bad music. And believe me, WHATEVER is of the good category.
Danny Thompson, one of UK’s leading bass player, does not need any introduction. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you are already familiar with this outstanding musician. Pentangle was among my favourite band in the late sixties and I still listen to their albums with as much pleasure as when I first heard them some forty years ago.
Named after his touring band at the time, Whatever, it features Thompson on his trademark double bass, reedman Tony Roberts on all manner of saxes, flutes and clarinets, and guitar from Bernie Holland.
The music falls well within the territory that Pentangle explored in the late 1960s / early 70s, albeit without the twin modal guitars of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, and without the vocals. This trio produces a thick and complex palette of sound, driven by the amazing power of Danny's acoustic double bass, which functions alternately as melody, bottom and rhythm section (no drums), and sometimes all three simultaneously. As to whether it is jazz - well, it's Euro-jazz. Tony's sax calls to mind Norwegian Jan Garbarek, a standard-bearer in that sub-genre. These guys are very adept jazz players, but the music is much more deeply rooted in European folk traditions and it's looking through the folk lens that brings this music into sharpest and sweetest focus. But forget the genres - when you're in the middle of that swirl of emotions that only the finest music can bring, you really won't notice that what you are hearing might be a blend of jazz, Scottish pipes and flameco, as it is on "Lovely Joan".
There is some confusion about the original release date of this album as there isn’t any date in the credits and sleeve notes. . According to AMG, this was originally released in 1974 but according to Wikipedia, it was released in 1987. Could anybody confirm?
1. Idle Monday
2. Till Minne Av Jan (For Jan Johansson)
4. Lovely Joan
5. Swedish Dance
6. Lament For Alex (For Alex Campbell)
8. Minor Escapade