I have already said that Derek Nash is one of the unsung heroes of British jazz - as a saxophonist and composer as well as a producer of numerous recordings at Clowns Pocket Studios. He is possibly best known at present as a member of Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. Derek's Acoustic Quartet is an all-star group with leading British pianist Dave Newton and Jamie Cullum's rhythm section of bassist Geoff Gascoyne and drummer Sebastiaan de Krom.
Nash wrote seven of the eleven tracks on this CD, some in collaboaration with his father Pat, who was an arranger for the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra for more than 30 years. Tracks 3 and 4 may be regarded as jazz standards, while pianist Phil Phillips composed Be My Valentine, which appears on the album in instrumental and vocal versions.
Recordings by quartets led by saxophonists can be boring but this album avoids that danger with varied repertoire and Derek's ability to play four types of saxophone: soprano, alto, tenor and baritone. Guests Martin Shaw, Winston Rollins and Beverley Vaughan add to the diversity. There is also variety within tunes, as in the title-track where the boogaloo tempo changes into 4/4 for the bridge. Derek Nash contributes a gutsy solo on (I think) tenor sax and there are tuneful solos from Dave Newton and Martin Shaw.
Derek switches to soprano sax for the buoyant Waltz for my Father, which has the same sort of melodic appeal as Horace Silver's Song for my Father. All the Things You Are is given a new slant as Derek (on baritone sax) bounces notes off Dave Newton's piano before going into a nimble solo. Ennio Morricone's love theme from Cinema Paradiso has a cool bossa beat.
The Time of Your Life is a bright swinger, with agile brushwork from Sebastiaan de Krom, who also supplies some well-structured drum breaks in Majolica. Love at First Sound is a glittering ballad which reminds me of the tune Silver Bells.Derek shows how tender the baritone sax can be. Voodoo Rex sets New Orleans-style drumming against a tune which sounds remarkably like Hi-Hell Sneakers.Haunting Me has some more pensive baritone.
Altogether, this album indicates how well top-class British jazzers are capable of playing.
Review by Tony Augarde - MusicWeb International