The mysteriously-named QOW Trio - named after a Dewey Redman tune - was formed by Brighton-based bass player Eddie Myer. Myer is very active on the local music scene, performing jazz but also performing with the likes of Turin Brakes. He is joined by fiery tenor saxophonist Riley Stone Lonergan and drummer Spike Wells, a veteran of the 1960s British jazz scene. The trio was brought together by a mutual love of the classic Sonny Rollins trios from the late 1950s, so if you love the likes of A Night At The Village Vanguard, you'll find plenty to enjoy here.
Sensibly, the Trio don't attempt to recreate the Rollins 'standards' from that era, and explore the broader landscape associated with other tenor saxophonists from that era, including the likes of Joe Henderson and Lester Young. Alto saxophonist, Charlie Parker, is also given the Rollins-style treatment on a fine reading of Cheryl.
QOW soon discovered that by playing in a pianoless trio, rather than a quartet, gave them a greater sense of freedom. "I love playing with this band because it combines both my love of the wonderful tradition of our jazz forebears with my love of absolute freedom and the feeling that anything could happen," notes saxophonist Lonergan, who clearly thrives on this, bringing a wealth of ideas to each of the nine tunes here. Wells is on majestic form, injecting a touch of cowbell here, and dash of funk there, adding a real vibrancy to the proceedings. Myer - whose playing is new to me - holds his own, providing strong support when required, and delivering some fine solos too.
The recording has a wonderful, 'live' feel; the whole album was recorded in a single afternoon, and you can feel the excitement in the air. Engineer Ben Lamdin adds to atmosphere by recording without partitions or booths - the "real Rudy Van Gelder deal," explains Wells, which adds to the late 1950s vibe.
Watch a preview of the album here:
There are numerous highlights. I really enjoyed the opener, Loesser's Slow Boat To China, and the two Cole Porter tracks, It's Alright With Me and You Do Something To Me, are both excellent. There are two originals, both contributed by the saxophonist, including the lovely Pound For Prez. But the best track was the Trio's fantastic version of God Bless The Child, which really shines a new light on this old favourite.
At a time when jazz is constantly reinventing itself, morphing with other styles, QOW provide a timely reminder that it's still possible to look back and find something fresh and new. Highly recommended.
QOW Trio is released on 5th February on Ubuntu Music.