11th March 2022 marks the release of Ewan, The Night n The Music, the debut album from multi-instrumentalist and composer Ewan Bleach. Having led the Cable Street Rag Band in London, as well as making strong contributions to international projects such as Frog and Henry and the New Orleans band Tuba Skinny, Bleach has now recorded a charming and beautiful collection of songs on an album that he describes as ‘for melting into your chair at the end of a hard day, mellow and soothing, but not without moments of pathos and passion.’
Nine well-known tunes make up this album with Johnny Green’s ‘Body and Soul’ chosen as the opening number. Everything one would expect to hear from this tune is in place: the sedate walking pace tempo provided by guitar, bass and piano, and the warm tone of Ewan’s sax: well-played familiarity. ‘Deep Purple’ opens with the guitar of Martin Wheatly before Ewan Bleach takes on the melody with great sounding clarinet lines. As with the opening number, track two is played at a sedate pace with plenty of time to admire the placement of the notes and the structure of the tune.
‘Memories of You’ has a Paris café feel to it and sounds beautiful with Ewan Bleach’s clarinet playing along with short runs on the piano from Colin Good. ‘You and the Night ‘n’ the Music’ is introduced by Colin Good with the melody picked-up by Ewan with that wonderful warm tone that appears to come so easily to him.
Track Five is Ellington’s ‘Prelude to a Kiss’ with florid runs on the piano it continues on from the previous four tracks in terms of tempo, tone, and mood. There is a nice solo section from John Kelly on guitar leading to more beautifully lyrical playing from Ewan on sax. Bechet’s ‘Si Tu Vois Ma Mere’ has Ewan back on the clarinet with another simple rhythm provided by guitar, bass, and piano over which to play.
‘When I Grow too Old to Dream’ is a lovely waltz that I am sure would be admired in ballrooms up and down the country. ‘The Very Thought of You’ has a wonderful sonorous sax sound to it along with complimentary piano accompaniment from Colin Good. The final track, ‘The Nearness of You’ closes the album in the much the same way it opened; and played throughout. This number is good tonally, has gentle piano accompaniment playing against the soft sounding rhythms from guitar and bass.
The quote from Ewan Bleach at the end of the opening paragraph to this review lets the listener know in advance what to expect from Ewan The Night n The Music, and those terms the album achieves its stated aims. There is nothing wrong with the quality of the music or the standard of the playing, it is simply that there is just too much of a good thing! There is not enough variation in tonal colour, pitch or timbre to make this album stand out and that is a shame because individually these tunes are recognized as jazz standards for good reason.
Musicians: Ewan Bleach – tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet; Colin Good – piano; Jim Ydstie – bass; John Kelly – guitar except track 2 – Martin Wheatly. Tracklist: 1. Body and Soul. 2. Deep Purple. 3. Memories of You.4. You and the Night and the Music. 5. Prelude to a Kiss. 6. Si Tu Vois Ma Mere. 7. When I Grow too Old to Dream. 8. The Very Thought of You. P. The Nearness of You.