Pete Neighbour – Back in the Neighbourhood
(www.peteneighbour.com. CD review by Peter Vacher)
Nicely presented on what I take to be his own label [no label ID or number indicated] and available via his web-site, I assume, this is clarinettist Neighbour’s homecoming recording. Why homecoming? Well as the short booklet note explains, he lives in the States most of the time and seems to have built quite a career over there but wanted to record on home territory with some old friends.
So he enlisted on-form pianist Dave Newton, vibes player Nat Steele, bassist Andy Cleyndert, hard-swinging drummer Tom Gordon plus guitarist Jim Mullen to play a series of familiar pieces. Happily, familiarity in this case has only bred zest, especially when you take the opening I Want To Be Happy into account for this is very lively indeed, Neighbour’s Benny Goodman-like clarinet on top through a series of fast-moving key changes. Boulevard of Broken Dreams is prettier, the clarinet sound nicely centred with Steele’s vibes rippling through with Newton finding bluesy touches in his solo. Of course, the instrumentation evokes Goodman’s line-ups but happily for this listener, there’s no question of note-for-note replication, Steele opens up rewardingly every time he solos, a song like I May Be Wrong But I think You’re Wonderful moving easily, as Neighbour offers a clear-toned solo. Vocalist Louise Cookman is added for You Make Me Feel So Young, sounding poised and relaxed, with Newton’s solo a proverbial corker. Opus One is stronger but then it always was, as Neighbour stretches out over Gordon’s stirring beat with bassist Cleyndert as imposing as ever as Mullen puts his impeccable stamp on things, ahead of a moving reading of Ellington’s Come Sunday, nicely paced by Neighbour.
So, a pleasing encounter with a strong commitment to swing, and a neat reminder of America’s gain in finding a place for Neighbour in their musical scheme of things. Should sell well at gigs. Incidentally, the impressive personnel is not listed on the CD front or back – the names only noted in paragraph four of the text and no composer credits are shown. Shame.