Ewan Bleach Quartet: Ewan the Night’n the Music review – jazz’s new old school

(Old Style)
Standards get a traditional treatment, immaculately rendered, on the British sax and clarinet player’s terrific debut album

An album of nine tunes from a long time ago with nothing corny about it except its title. But this is Ewan Bleach’s debut album, so we’ll let it pass. He’s one of a small but growing body of younger musicians keen to explore what he calls the “rich and melodic” work of the old songwriters. Bleach plays tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, plus clarinet, all with perfect control and a gorgeous tone, particularly on tenor. We have become so used to jazz treatments, sometimes quite brilliant ones, of standard tunes, that a straightforward rendition, elegantly phrased, comes as quite a surprise.

The solos that follow maintain the mood and keep the melody in mind. Each track ends on a single long note – and when did you last hear one of those? No final flourishes, although Bleach does add a very small one at the end of the last number. Immaculate piano by Colin Good, direct from the 1930s, John Kelly (and guest Martin Wheatley) on guitar and Jim Ydstie, bass, complete the quartet. I particularly enjoyed Memories of You (on clarinet) and The Nearness of You (on tenor).

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