Bobby Wellins – Birds of Brazil

birds of brazil

Good news! The website of top British saxophonist Bobby Wellins reports that:-

Bobby’s CD, Birds of Brazil, recorded in 1989 and long unavailable has been re-released by HEP records.

Just checking out who’s in Bobby’s quartet on this album lets you know that you’re in for some quality jazz: there’s the late great Pete Jacobsen on piano, Ken Baldock on bass, and the ever inventive Spike Wells on drums. There’s more, though, as John Fordham mentions in his review:-

The title suite [the first three tracks on the CD] and a scattering of other tracks here come from early-80s recordings the saxophonist made with his quartet, a classical strings ensemble, with Kenny Wheeler guesting on trumpet, and featuring Tony Coe’s subtle arrangements.

As Fordham points out, the title suite is proof that:-

Scottish saxist Bobby Wellins deserves a composer’s reputation alongside the illustrious one he’s had as an improviser (his tone influenced by pipers and folk singers) for five decades.

There are some lovely liner notes to the CD by Rob Adams, including the following observations:-

Although he carved his name and tenor saxophone tone indelibly into British jazz history through his inimitable contribution to one well documented suite, Stan Tracey’s classic Under Milk Wood from 1965, Bobby Wellins hasn’t enjoyed much luck with his own extended compositions. His masterly Culloden Moor…lay, almost forgotten, for years until, happily, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra revived it in a new arrangement in 2011, with Wellins sounding every bit the majestic featured soloist at the age of seventy-five.

 

Birds of Brazil dates from a later period when, following a long absence from the jazz scene, Wellins was delighting audiences once again with his beautifully paced, sometimes mischievously phrased uptempo solo building and a style of playing ballads that could only come from a complete understanding of song form and a penchant for singers.

 

Listening to the music now, it’s classic Wellins…Tony Coe’s orchestrations captured Wellins’ musical personality perfectly. There’s never a note wasted and the string shadings both subtly enhance the emotion of the tenor saxophone and lightly colour the atmosphere and sense of loss that the composer’s initial inspiration was surely striving to suggest.

The other tracks on the album are also excellent. Look out for a superb solo from Bobby on Angel Eyes.

Recommended.

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