CD REVIEW: Sketch (Rob Koral, Jeremy Stacey, Laurence Cottle, Pete Saberton, Sue Hawker) - Seconds Count (Rec. 1986)



Sketch - Seconds Count
(33 Records 33JAZZ269. CD review by Mike Collins)


Back in June 1986, guitarist Rob Koral rounded up a youthful Jeremy Stacey and Laurence Cottle on drums and bass respectively, alongside the already established and influential pianist Pete Saberton to join himself and vocalist Sue Hawker in the recording studio.

The resulting LP hit the decks that year and Koral has now orchestrated a re-release on CD through 33 Records. It’s notable not just for the music, but also for being Jeremy Stacey’s first recorded outing, a very early one for Cottle, and a happy reminder of what a versatile and inventive performer Saberton was.

The session bristles with energy and bluesy swagger. There are five originals jointly penned by Koral and Hawker. Feels So Good bursts into life with a snappy riff under a brisk latin groove, alternating with surging swing. Hawker’s rich, gravelly, voice swoops and glides over the pulse. On Heroes Hawker stretches out over a slow, blues rock backing, delivering a powerful vocal. Crazy Sunday is a breezy samba and on Cool for Love the band really dig into a funky groove. Was it Something You Said is a power ballad, Hawker giving it her all. The set is rounded off with the band’s gritty take on some standards. They find just the right brew of soul, rocky blues and jazz to give Fever a twist; Fine and Mellow becomes a breezy, swinging blues.

There is plenty of fiery soloing soloing throughout to match the power and forcefulness of the vocal delivery. Pete Saberton is a joy to listen to on Feels so Good and Crazy Sunday, the latin vibe giving his rhythmic ingenuity plenty of scope, alongside glittering runs and melodic invention. Koral injects plenty of moments of thoughtfulness as well as revving things up and rocking out. It’s also easy to hear why Cottle and Stacey have been in such demand for the subsequent thirty years. They inject momentum and interest at every turn.

This is an energetic and enjoyable set. Dusting off the archives was well worth the effort.

Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bath, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter @jazzyblogman

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