Philip Clouts Quartet - The Hour Of Pearl (Point Records) 
Philip Clouts Quartet - The Hour Of Pearl

There are various combinations of words that tend to make me shudder: Conservative Party, Light Mayonnaise, Mediterranean Cruise, Celery Stick.....Contemporary Jazz. In defence of the Philip Clouts Quartet, they are only responsible for the last of these combinations but it's still makes me feel a little bit like I did on my first day at school - nervous and highly likely to run away screaming if giving half a chance. But regular readers should know by now that I will give anything a fair hearing so I'm going to pull on my turtle neck sweater and my corduroy slacks before popping the headphones on.

'The Hour Of Pearl' opens with 'Riptide' with rippling piano melodies and a smoky sax that makes me think of a seedy, downbeat New York detective walking the streets at night just because he's got nothing better to do. Next up is 'On West Hill' which is a more laid back affair but still heavily focused on the piano and saxophone combination which keeps making me expect an American chat show to start. 'Delta' is the first tune that really grabs my attention with the slightly off kilter piano lines and more subtle saxophone work that lets the piano take centre stage for once. The wonderfully title 'Flamingo-ing' starts off with some groovy, almost Cuban double-bass work and then the piano and sax dance along in harmony together creating the kind of music you might expect at the beginning of a Steve Martin rom-com.

Title track 'The Hour Of Pearl' is a more sombre, stormy affair in the style of Ludovico Einaudi while 'Clef Mona' as a light piece of sax and piano interplay. I hate to say it but I still find it incredibly difficult to get excited about this kind of music despite the obvious musical talent on display and passion for the craft. 'As Evening Falls' is another dusky, sax based piece while final track 'Nyasa Lullaby' features some lovely rolling piano and that smooth sax once again. If you want something relaxing to listen to and you find the sound of a saxophone restful then this might just be for you but I'm sorry to say that it's not my cup of tea. You can't win them all I suppose.

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Live Dates:

1st May - Maidment Auditorium, Shrewsbury
2nd May - Beehive Arts Centre, Honiton
3rd May - Stogumber Hall, Somerset
20th May - Art Bar @ The Bullingdon, Oxford
21st May - Span Jazz Dingle Club, Pembrokeshire
12th June - Creative Innovation Centre, Taunton
13th June - Hope Hall, Exeter

4th July - Wigmore Hall, London