via Lateralize Records
Ahead of the album’s physical retail release on January 28th 2021, British Standard Time are today releasing their self-titled album on all digital platforms. With no prospect of any live shows during the pandemic, Hampstead Jazz Club commissioned this very special album, which raises money to support the musicians who have helped establish the North London club among the capital’s most respected venues.
One of the most versatile and in-demand pianists in British jazz, Alex Webb cut his teeth working with an illustrious array of singers including David McAlmont and China Moses. Having spent much of his career focusing on the Great American Songbook, he came up with the original idea for British Standard Time.
Enlisting the cream of the UK’s finest jazz musicians to collaborate with some of the country’s most distinctive voices including ‘Queen Of Lovers Rock’ Carroll Thompson and former Incognito frontman, Tony Momrelle, as well as Jo Harrop and Luca Manning, British Standard Time stirs a subtle twist of jazz into a selection of the most ageless homegrown songs of all time.
From Thompson’s sultry Try A Little Tenderness and Harrop’s haunting take on Elvis Costello’s Almost Blue through to Manning’s stunning reading of Rag ‘N’ Bone Man’s Human and Momrelle’s mellifluous interpretation of Rod Temperton’s Give Me The Night, this superb album somehow manages to put a fresh new frame around these much-loved masterpieces.
Whether it’s John Martyn’s Don’t Want To Know or Paul Weller’s You Do Something To Me, these timeless songs have never sounded quite like this before. The New Yorker’s legendary music critic, Whitney Balliett, defined jazz as ‘the sound of surprise,’ which seems to perfectly sum up the music on British Standard Time.
British Standard Time tracklist:
1 Give Me The Night (Temperton) Tony Momrelle
2 Lullaby of Birdland (Shearing) Carroll Thompson
3 I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Clayton-Mullen-Bono-The Edge) Jo Harrop
4 Slip Away (Dankworth-Dearlove) Luca Manning
5 Try A Little Tenderness (Campbell-Connelly-Woods) Carroll Thompson
6 The Man In The Station / I Don’t Want To Know (Martyn) Jo Harrop
7 Breakfast For Two (Webb-Charles) Carroll Thompson
8 Human (Rag’n’Bone Man-Hartman) Luca Manning
9 Moments (Webb) Jo Harrop
10 The Very Thought of You (Noble) Tony Momrelle
11 Mad About The Boy (Coward) Carroll Thompson
12 As Long As He Needs Me (Bart) segue into Love Is A Losing Game (Winehouse) Jo Harrop
13 You Do Something To Me (Weller) Luca Manning
14 Almost Blue (Costello) Jo Harrop
All arrangements by Alex Webb
Produced by Jamie McCredie
Executive Producer Mayank Patel
Recorded at Gorilla Studios, Battersea and Qube Studios, Park Royal
Alex Webb – piano, organ, MD
Jo Harrop, Luca Manning, Tony Momrelle, Carroll Thompson – vocals
Tony Kofi – soprano, alto and baritone sax
Leo Richardson – tenor sax, flute
Andy Davies – trumpet, flugelhorn
Nathaniel Cross – trombone
Ciyo Brown – guitar (tracks 5, 7, 9 and 10)
Jamie McCredie – guitar (tracks 11 and 14)
Flo Moore – electric and acoustic bass
Sophie Alloway – drums, percussion
‘British songwriters rule the world’, Guardian journalist (and songwriter) Helienne Lindvall wrote a few years back – an exaggeration perhaps, but certainly a reminder of how much Anglo-American popular music owes to this country’s composers. As far back as the 1930s UK songwriters were contributing works which were to be made famous by US jazz musicians – including Ray Noble’s The Very Thought Of You (1934), Noel Coward’s Mad About the Boy (1932) and Try A Little Tenderness, a 1932 collaboration between Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connolly and American Harry Woods – a song probably best known now for Otis Redding’s searing mid-60s take.
The following decade saw British pianist George Shearing establish himself Stateside where he contributed a classic melody to the jazz canon, Lullaby of Birdland, while at the same time saxophonist, arranger and composer John Dankworth was becoming a leading figure in the UK modern jazz scene. Dankworth’s Let’s Slip Away was used as the theme for the 1960 film, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Meanwhile British musicals were combining indigenous styles like music hall with newer pop trends, most successfully by Lionel Bart, whose As Long As He Needs Me is one of many unforgettable songs from his show Oliver!
From the 1960s on British rock artists and singer-songwriters supplied countless great songs, including John Martyn’s Man In The Station and Don’t Want To Know, Paul Weller’s You Do Something To Me and Elvis Costello’s Almost Blue – originally written for Chet Baker. An unlikely choice perhaps, but U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For is refreshed by a Miles Davis-influenced treatment. The late Rod Temperton wrote many of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, and is represented here by Give Me The Night, first recorded by George Benson, while another recent loss – the hugely talented Amy Winehouse – left us with the heartache of Love is A Losing Game. The most recent items on the album are Rag’n’Bone Man’s chart hit Human, and two new songs from me – well, I’m a British songwriter too.
It has been delightful to bring these remarkable and distinctive voices together for the album. As well as the incomparable Jo Harrop, the hottest new male singer on the UK jazz scene, Luca Manning, brings his unique timbre and swing, while Carroll Thompson, from the reggae scene, and Tony Momrelle, from the soul and R&B world, both show off their considerable jazz chops. A huge thank you too, to all the formidable musicians on the album, who responded to – and frequently improved on – the arrangements so creatively. And we’ve barely scratched the surface of this amazing body of work. – Alex Webb
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