Eagle Peak is the first album release from Tom Remon under his own name and it follows the acclaimed debut recording Duality (click here for the review) he released with guitarist Jim Mullen back in March of 2021. Since then, Tom Remon has created a fine reputation as one of the next generation of UK jazz musicians. A graduate from Middlesex University, and former attendee of the Tomorrow’s Warriors programme, Tom has developed a name for himself on the London jazz scene. Putting together a solid rhythm section of Mike Gorman and Shaney Forbes, with the addition of Laurence Wilkins on Trumpet, Eagle Peak is different in style to Duality and with four of the eight tracks recorded here being written by Tom there is an opportunity to hear how he has developed as a composer.
Bobby Hutcherson’s ‘Anton’s Ball’ opens Eagle Peak with Laurence Wilkins and Tom Remon laying down the melody in unison. Wlkins’ first solo sounds effortless, the notes clear as he plays up and down the register. Mike Gorman plays a good rhythm with his left hand before his own solo, which sounds great on the organ as the notes hang in the air for a fraction before moving on. Tom Remon’s solo is crisp with a wonderful tone. Shaney Forbes on the drums is on good form always pitching his sound at just the right level to give support to the musicians leading on the melody.
‘Just One of Those Things’ is a Cole Porter standard played at a quick waltz tempo. The tone on this number is bright and upbeat and with a playing time of around nine-and-a-half minutes each band member gets the chance to stretch out on their solos. Each solo is good, but Mike Gorman’s stands out for its energy, drive, and purpose.
The first of Tom Remon’s compositions is a contrafact (a new musical composition built out of an already existing one, most often a new melody overlaid on a familiar harmonic structure) of the Arthur Schwartz number ‘Alone Together’ – this is dedicated to Tom’s Soka Gakkai mentor (Soka Gakkai being a Japanese Buddhist teaching). ‘Five for Sensei’ is set in a trio format with Tom and Mike playing the melody over drums patterns set down by Shaney Forbes. I very much enjoyed Tom’s playing on this number and its references to the original Schwartz composition.
Mike Gorman’s ‘When I Grow Up’ was originally recorded for a Jim Mullen album back in 2005. The number has Laurence Wilkins leading on trumpet with chordal support from Mike Gorman before he takes over the melody. Shaney Forbes plaings deft drum patterns, along with Tom Remon’s rhythmic pulses on guitar, give added texture to the sound. Tom’s own solo has a lovely tone as he moves around the fret board. ‘Fly Little Bird Fly’, written by Donald Bryd, is an up-tempo number that zips along nicely with the musicians trading solos throughout. This is a great number that I am sure would be a hit with live audiences.
‘One Eternal Bond’ opens with a powerful Shaney Forbes drum solo before organ and guitar soften out the sound. There is an energy and sharpness about this tune that I found intriguing given that it “takes inspiration from the Buddhist concept of the eternity of life and the relationships between people.” The standard of musicianship on this number is first class and it is another of those tunes that gives up more on each subsequent listening.
The description of the album title track I shall leave to the press release as I believe it says everything you need to know about the tune:
The title track has been a work-in-progress since Tom’s college days. Taking full form for this recording, ‘Eagle Peak’ is a fast-paced, swinging number which gives each musician an opportunity to shine. Forbes’ drums flow effortlessly under the deftly executed solos from Wilkins, Remon, and Gorman. Remon’s guitar tone is clear and resonant. The track concludes with a powerful solo from Forbes, with Wilkins looping the tune’s motif over the top.
The shortest, and final, track of Eagle Peak is another Tom Remon composition ‘Nichiko Hori’. This is a strange tune in that it opens with a Shaney Forbes drum solo with punches of sound from organ and guitar before fading quickly to a West African Mali blues style solo from Tom Remon. I am at a loss to link the sound to the title but then if you have heard the Japanese blues player Takashi Hirayasu perhaps that link is not quite so far removed. However, this track does feel out of kilter with the other seven tracks and perhaps should not have made it to the final cut – despite how well played the number is.
This follow-up album to Duality is very different in style and substance to that recorded with Jim Mullen. What does remain the same is Tom Remon’s excellent guitar playing and how he uses those skills on his choice of album tracks. Tom’s own compositions are very good, with ‘Five for Sensai’ standing out for me, and highlight just how accomplished he is as both musician and writer. This is the second of Tom’s albums I have reviewed, and I am very interested to hear where he takes his music next. There can be little doubt for me that Tom Remon will continue to grow as an artist and possesses the potential to become one of Britain’s highly regarded jazz guitarists alongside the likes of Jim Mullen and Nigel Price.
Eagle Peak is available to pre-order from Bandcamp now and will be on full release Monday 28 February.
Tracklist: 1. Anton’s Ball (Bobby Hutcherson). 2. Just One of Those Things (Cole Porter). 3. Five for Sensei (Tom Remon) 4. When I Grow Up (Mike Gorman). 5. Fly Little Bird Fly (Donald Byrd). 6. One Eternal Bond (Tom Remon) 7. Eagle Peak (Tom Remon) 8. Nichiko Hori (Tom Remon).
Musicians: Tom Remon – guitar; Laurence Wilkins – trumpet; Mike Gorman – organ; Shaney Forbes – drums.
Recorded by Matt Smith and Alex Barnet
Mixed by Matt Smith
Mastered by Theo Pascal