They run deep, according to the old saying, and the Midlands-based pianist and composer certainly makes it easy with the tunes he writes for his improvisers to get beneath the surface to investigate what lies beneath.
The linked opening tracks take us from pastoral serenity to upbeat Latin overtones, while In Your Footsteps/Solstice gets one of the band’s live favourites recorded at last. In Hope And Faith builds up a fine funky head of steam. Some nice watery sound effects link the whole album together.
The band has Amann’s long-time Walsall Jazz Orchestra partners, bassist Adam Gilchrist and drummer Carl Hemmingsley (with new drummer Pete Hammond in for three tracks), while in the frontline are trumpeter Ray Butcher and saxophonist Sam Rogers. Shelia MacRory adds flute on a few tracks and sings the traditional The Maid of Culmore to her own tune. There’s sterling work from all concerned, with Butcher and Rogers in particular getting to those dark, mysterious and intriguing emotional depths.
Peter Bacon, 2 June 2011
There’s a spring in the step, a buoyancy, a tension-and-release in real jazz that separates it from the pretenders – it’s a feeling apparent from the opening beats of Reverie, the opening track on this second disc from the Aldridge pianist and his expanding band.
The basic quartet of Amann, Sam Rogers on saxophones, Adam Gilchrist on bass and Carl Hemmingsley on drums is augmented as on the first album by vocalist Sheila MacRory, but this time around there are also contributions from Harry Christian on violin, Martin Schuster on flute and Wolfgang Lackerschmid on vibes and marimba, who also engineered the album in Germany.
Amann writes cool, melodic tunes and prefers a slow pace so there’s a quiet reflective quality to much of this disc, making it very accessible and easy to live with. The nearest he comes to turning up the temperature is on Refuge, which has a Steps Ahead feel, perhaps because Rogers’ tenor is joined by Lackerschmid’s vibes.
There’s an intriguing version of My Man’s Gone Now, with the vocal underpinned by a funk bassline, and MacRory’s other song is the traditional When I Was On Horseback, which suits her unaffected singing style perfectly – strong Breckerish tenor work here from Rogers. Amann himself improvises like a composer should, filling his solos with strong motifs and logical variations on the theme.
It’s well worth it. (4 stars) Peter Bacon, 8 September 2001
Tim Amann sits at the levers, controlling everything in this programme of mood-evoking stuff inspired by Robert Westall’s novel of that name. Which I haven’t read, by the way. But if Amann’s ten original pieces reflect the book, I can imagine it being sombre in parts with some sudden shocks and lots to reflect over. Amann borrows from folk styles to create jig like pieces such as the delightful “Waterfalls And Whirlpools”. This is intelligent, creative, thoughtful material.
Anthony Troon, December 2001