CD REVIEW: Henry Lowther's Still Waters – Can't Believe, Won't Believe

Henry Lowther's Still Waters – Can't Believe, Won't Believe
(Village Life 171013VL. Review by Patrick Hadfield)

Henry Lowther's new album is suffused with a gentle, understated melancholy, a maturity fitting for the combined accomplishments of the band's CV. They go for feeling rather than fireworks.

They have been playing together as Still Waters for over 20 years, though this is only the second album. Lowther's trumpet has a mellow, sonorous tone, well-balanced by Pete Hurt's tenor playing. The rhythm section – Dave Green on bass, the unrelated Barry Green on piano, and drummer Paul Clarvis – have the confidence and subtlety to leave space to great effect, rather than filling in the gaps. The result is music with an open, unhurried feel.

Which is not to say it lacks urgency. Saipuakkaupias generates drive through the writing building the tension, not through haste. Something Like is perhaps the exception, an upbeat fast tune during which Lowther and Clarvis duet over a simple bass pattern before the piano comes in.

Most of the tracks are slow ballads, however. The opening, title track sets the standard. Gently lyrical, Lowther's slow trumpet lines Leeward to Hurt's more bluesy, yearning saxophone. All the musicians make the most of the freedom the space gives them. This freedom is perhap most evident on Lights on the North Circular, creating a picture of a surprisingly empty thoroughfare – late night, perhaps –  over ostensibly simple bass and piano patterns, Lowther solos in a higher register. The chords from Barry Green's piano seem to break down, scattering into a solo.

Clarvis's drumming and Barry Green's piano are together impressionistic, redolent of Bill Evans and the relationship he had with several drummers. This is to the fore on Some Other Time, a tune covered by Evans on his collaboration with Tony Bennett. Here, combined with Lowther's soulful, low register trumpet, it almost sounds like a missing track from Kind of Blue.

(Henry Lowther's Still Waters play the Vortex in London on 3 March 2018.)

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

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