reviews

Anyone who favours a professionally performed, relaxed jazz club vibe – ideally shared with friends (remember those days?) and a glass of Malbec, will savour the undemanding yet consistently enjoyable original songs on this mellifluous album. Cambridgeshire – based Smith is a fine musician – guitar and mandocello – whose expressive voice, laid-back groove and six piece band are ideally suited to late-night jazz of the gentle variety.

‘Blue Note Lament’ instantly qualifies on all fronts, with its sax – and – keyboards mix, before swing track ‘Ad Lib Infinitum’ again displays Myke Clifford’s horns and the gentle humour of Smith’s astute lyrics. There is a Harry Chapin feel to the excellent ‘A Promised Land’ with its innovative piano and acoustic guitar intro leading into a tale of the American dream.

‘Split Note Thelonious’ approaches a funky style featuring Chris Newman’s guitar, and (yes) flute from the multi instrumental Clifford, whereas the title track serves up complex lyrics over a languid melody as Smith relates his Freudian thoughts. The reflective blues of ‘No Shim Sham’ and tasteful homage to Benny Goodman, ‘Licorice Stick’, round off a thoroughly enjoyable ‘Birdland Reappraised’.

Too often ‘easy listening’ is used pejoratively, but it applies positively to this mood – enhancing, novel album. Morgan Hogarth, R n R Magazine

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Soloman Smith is a Cambridgeshire based singer/songwriter known for wry songs about the world as he sees it and with a reputation underpinned by years of gigging solo and with others all over the UK. In his youth he was introduced to big band music by his dad and, for a while, played trumpet and flugelhorn, so it comes as no surprise that this new album pays tribute to his love for all things jazz. His songs still retain the sense of humour and social comment he is known for and he has a clear unaffected voice that really allows the song to stay front and centre all the time. On this recording he has had a lot of help from fine musicians and, goodness me, this band can swing!

Soloman name-checks all his collaborators and they all deserve credit but I feel I must single out Chris Newman for excellent guitar work and Myke Clifford on horns. Oh, and Keith Hagger on bass…it’s hard not to run down the whole list. All the songs on this album stand as fine examples of tight small group jazz. ‘Blue Note Lament’ claims that ‘…cool can be hot and hot can be cool …’ and I couldn’t put it much better. ‘Ad Lib Ad Infinitum’ is something of a paean to being a jazz musician and the lyrics claim that ‘Charlie Parker would turn in his grave’ but I don’t think he would. This up tempo number swings in spades! ‘Split Note Thelonius’ has a much more rock or funk feel. Driving Hammond organ sound and good interplay between guitar and the horns and flutes. Really cool in all departments.

In an album with no weak spots it’s hard to pick favourites but I have to mention the two songs that are real showstoppers in my opinion. ‘A Spiritual Refrain’ came as a complete surprise with its a capella opening followed by slide guitar and banjo. A very rootsy feel completely unlike any other track on the album. I look forward to seeing this performed live. Then there is the remarkable ‘Dreaming in B Flat’ with its spoken delivery verging on rap, it is fantastic. You can feel the atmosphere in the bar room as the story unfolds and he waits for ‘the man’ to play. You can feel his love for jazz as he raps ‘B Flat’s where it’s at!’. Astounding! If this track alone doesn’t garner some serious airtime I will be very surprised. If Miles Davis is up there listening he’ll be smiling”. Philip Thomas FATEA

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“Having first discovered Soloman back in 2018 opening for Clive Gregson at St Neots Folk Club, it is a great pleasure to see him release his second LP. Refining an approach that he had already developed on his debut Lasagne Moments, Soloman creates a melting pot of folk, soul, blues, jazz, funk and country anchored by some solid song-craft and a sympathetic production. Blue Note Lament opens the proceedings with a suitably jazzy mood where electric and acoustic piano runs intertwine themselves with saxophones, the rhythm section keeps things simple powering the song along. Ad Lib Infinitum moves in a similar direction with a great swinging section in the middle (kudos to Myke Clifford, responsible for all horns on the LP) and proves to be a clever reflection on musicianship. Next is A Promised Land, aired at The Folk Club in a strip down version but which here is enhanced by excellent keys courtesy of Colin Hazel (what an intro…) and a great guitar solo by Chris Newman. We move to a more upbeat note with the groovy Flip Floppin’ while the funky Split Note Thelonious with its memorable chorus and flute parts proves to be another highlight. The sparse title track hides a punchy set of lyrics under its languid tones and the life lesson of Einstein proves to be as entertaining as it is catchy. The album turns more meditative in its second half with the reflective Paradoxes Paradigms and No Shim Sham, a spacey blues number with yet another great set of lyrics. The circling riff of Licorice Stick proves to be a worthy homage to the legendary clarinetist (Benny Goodman) while the appropriately titled A Spiritual Refrain is a great coda to this lovely album” – Craig Chaligne Louder Than War

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” Showcasing four excellent songs that matched the quality of Clive’s (Gregson) material the brooding ‘A minor E7’ wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a JJ Cale seventies LP. The sparse ‘Chemically’ hid its depth behind the simplicity of it’s lyric and the arrangement (less is more). A new song ‘A Promised Land’ promises much for the new record – Louder Than War