Stan Tracey Quartet
Released October, 2011
Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2011
Inspired by Dylan Thomas’ short story, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”, jazz legend Stan Tracey CBE has put pen to paper for the first time in over 10 years to compose a new suite, performed by his current quartet with the addition of Stan’s 21 year old grandson, Ben Tracey, as narrator. Very much in the mould of Stan’s landmark recording ‘Under Milk Wood’ from the Sixties, this was another popular story in the Tracey household at that time and ever since.
“I’ve always had a particular fondness for A Child’s Christmas in Wales because it evokes so many memories of the festival when I was a child. I was, therefore, delighted when Clark suggested that I should write something based on Dylan’s story and wondered why I hadn’t thought of it first. I hope the music reflects some of the pleasure it has given me.”
1. Overture to Times Past (Stan Tracey) 0:45
2. Narration (Stan Tracey) 4:08
3. Prothero’s Dilemma (Stan Tracey) 6:12
4. Narration (Stan Tracey) 3:07
5. Wagging the Bag (Stan Tracey) 7:00
6. Narration (Stan Tracey) 2:40
7. Easy for Leonardo (Stan Tracey) 5:57
8. Narration (Stan Tracey) 1:32
9. Jinks (Stan Tracey) 6:06
10. Narration (Stan Tracey) 3:47
11. Pudding and Mince (Stan Tracey) 6:21
12. Narration (Stan Tracey) 2:59
13. Trolls (Stan Tracey) 5:42
14. Narration (Stan Tracey) 0:57
15. Overture to Times Past (Reprise) (Stan Tracey) 5:00
Stan Tracey: piano
Simon Allen: tenor saxophone
Andy Cleyndert: bass
Clark Tracey: drums
Ben Tracey: narration
Recorded 10 January 2011, and mastered by Derek Nash at Clown’s Pocket Studios
Producer: Clark Tracey
Executive-Producer: Sylvia Tracey
‘I’ve always had a particular fondness for Dylan Thomas’s short story “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” because it evokes so many memories of the festival when I was a child … I hope the music reflects some of the pleasure it gave me.’ Thus Stan Tracey on the reasons behind his having written his first new suite in ten years, performed here by his quartet, completed by Clark Tracey (drums), bassist Andrew Cleyndert and saxophonist Simon Allen.
Of course, Tracey has already visited Thomas’s work to produce one of UK jazz’s most enduringly popular albums, the exclusively musical (in its original version) Under Milk Wood(1965); here, however, he intersperses his eight compositions with seven narrations, read with impressive sensitivity and intelligence by grandson Ben Tracey. The resulting album is an unalloyed delight: Tracey’s joyously pungent pieces reflect the spirit of Thomas’s prose-poem perfectly, descriptions such as ‘a boy the spit of myself, with a pink-tipped cigarette and the violet past of a black eye,
cocky as a bullfinch …’ and of Auntie Hannah, steeped in parsnip wine, singing of ‘bleeding hearts and death’ memorably complemented by the pithily witty piano of Tracey himself, Allen’s lucid and emotive saxophones and a fine-tuned but muscularly propulsive rhythm section.
Ben Tracey’s contribution also deserves the highest praise; Thomas’s unique mixture of poetic eloquence, barbed wit and nostalgic sentiment is an elusive beast to capture, but he manages it perfectly; overall, this album is a worthy successor to its illustrious sixties predecessor.
Chris Parker (LondonJazzNews)