‘British Standard Time’ (Lateralize, 2022)
A new album by Alex Webb, ‘British Standard Time’ (Lateralize) was released digitally and on CD in January 2022. Produced by Jamie McCredie and featuring the vocal talents of Jo Harrop, Luca Manning, Tony Momrelle and Carroll Thompson, the 15-track album celebrates British songwriting past and present with a crack group of UK jazz musicians and sparkling new arrangements.
Tracks include works from the 1930s, when UK songwriters were creating works which were to be made famous by US jazz musicians – such as Ray Noble’s The Very Thought Of You (1934), Noel Coward’s Mad About the Boy (1932) and Try A Little Tenderness, a 1932 collaboration between Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connolly and American Harry Woods – a song probably best known now for Otis Redding’s searing mid-60s take.
The 1940s are represented by British pianist George Shearing’s classic melody Lullaby of Birdland, while during the same period saxophonist, arranger and composer John Dankworth was becoming a leading figure in the UK modern jazz scene. Dankworth’s Let’s Slip Away was used as the theme for the 1960 film, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
Meanwhile British musicals were combining indigenous styles like music hall with newer pop trends, most successfully by Lionel Bart, whose As Long As He Needs Me is one of many unforgettable songs from his show Oliver! From the 1960s on British rock artists and singer-songwriters supplied countless great songs, including John Martyn’s Man In The Station and Don’t Want To Know, Paul Weller’s You Do Something To Me and Elvis Costello’s Almost Blue – originally written for Chet Baker. An unlikely choice perhaps, but U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For is refreshed by a Miles Davis-influenced treatment (if you’re wondering, U2’s bassist Adam Clayton was actually born in England).
The late Rod Temperton wrote many of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, and is represented on the album by Give Me The Night, first recorded by George Benson, while another recent loss – the hugely talented Amy Winehouse – left us with the heartache of Love is A Losing Game. The most recent items on the album are Rag’n’Bone Man’s chart hit Human, and two new songs from Webb – who’s a British songwriter too!
‘The Last Bohemians’ (Copasetic/Lateralize, 2019)
Renowned UK vocalist David McAlmont teamed up with Alex Webb to create a love letter to the jazz life. The Last Bohemians was the first major recorded work by David McAlmont for over a decade and represents a deep foray into jazz, with a varied repertoire of originals (including two new songs co-written by David) as well as a wide range of imaginative arrangements that perfectly showcase McAlmont’s vocal talents. Some of the UK’s finest jazz musicans feature on the album – among them Tony Kofi (soprano, alto & tenor saxes) and Andy Davies (trumpet, flugelhorn) – which was produced by jazz veteran Andrew Cleyndert. Press reaction to the album was ecstatic:
‘David McAlmont is a swinger at heart … Webb’s crack team underline the album’s effortless authority, not least McAlmont’s seductive and sassy turns’ – Mojo (****)
‘These enchanting tunes have a fine bittersweet sentiment, a cry, a lament… achingly beautiful’ – Blues & Soul
‘He really has got the shops, the voice is light but elastic … instead of an icy technician, you get an artist with soul’ – Sunday Times (Jazz album of the week)
‘Winning combinations are part of jazz history – Parker and Gillespie, Davis and Coltrane, Holiday and Young. Now we can add McAlmont and Webb to the list’ – Jazz Journal (****)
‘McAlmont’s voice is a thing of unique beauty, and his imaginative grasp of the music, coupled with the fine songwriting and engaging arrangements, make The Last Bohemians an unqualified success’ – Jazzwise (****)
‘Call Me Lucky’ (Splash Point, 2016)
Eleven top jazz singers from the UK, US and France joined Alex Webb & The Copasetics for this vocal jazz tour-de-force: Liane Carroll, Cherise Adams-Burnett, Alexia Gardner, Allan Harris, Jo Harrop, David McAlmont, China Moses, Sandra Nkaké, Vimala Rowe, Alexander Stewart and Ayanna Witter-Johnson.
All the songs were written by Alex Webb except Winters (Webb/Witter-Johnson) and Nothing But A Blues (Webb/Moses/Lemonnier); the album was produced by Andrew Cleyndert under Executive Producer Neal Richardson; top jazz musicians on the recording included Freddie Gavita, Sue Richardson, Winston Rollins, Denys Baptiste, Nathaniel Facey & Jo Caleb. Press reaction was superb:
‘Though it’s golden age jazz, it all manages to be quirkily contemporary – and a remarkable talent-spotting coup into the bargain’ – The Guardian (****):
’13 original songs that sound like standards, with no fewer than 11 of today’s finest jazz vocalists … what’s not to like?’ – London Evening Standard (****):
‘I expected this CD to be wonderful and I wasn’t disappointed. It could well be my CD of the year‘ – BebopSpokenHere blog