Pianist and composer Stan Tracey, now 86, recently recorded this characteristically craggy and bustling set following a pilgrimage in his father's footsteps to the first world war battlefields – but, as usual with Tracey, no sobering theme can blunt his appetite for tenacious, hard-punctuated swing, tightly nailed piano solos, and in this case a small-band sound somewhere between Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and the Milestones Miles Davis group.
The trio is joined here by Mark Armstrong on trumpet and Simon Allen on saxes, and the six tracks include the clangy Bouncing Bertha with its lithe alto-sax break and warm hard-bop trumpet solo and the cryptic and triplet-packed Weary Willie. Tracey takes his time with some of the piano improvisations, but he occupies the space with genuinely arresting fresh thoughts. It's trademark Tracey, but even more sharply focused.
John Fordham - Guardian UK
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