Willmore’s distinctive sax style on CD

Norman and the Folding Deckchairs, debut CD avail­able from Shetland Jazz Club at shetlandjazz club@gmail.com

Norman and the Folding Deckchairs have been around for some time, popping up at all manner of Shetland festivals and jazz gigs and playing their particular melodic brand of mainstream to modern jazz.

The band does have a distinctive style, due in no small part to the expert playing of their front man, saxophonist Norman Willmore, who has developed his own highly dis­tinc­tive sound, unusual in such a young player.

His tone is maturing and his ability to weave around a melody is becoming more prominent with each passing month. The improvement in his playing over the last year has been spectacular, in my view, and I hope in those of others who have seen him grow in confidence and ability.

The same goes for the musicians around him, in particular the bass playing of Ellen Smith, which now has a richness and maturity that underpins the group and helps give it its distinctive sound. Her vocal on Fly Me To The Moon is delightfully understated and an innovative rendition of the song.

The other feature of this CD, that helps bring variety in tone and texture, is the use of five different pianists, Bobby Sutherland, John Peterson, Max Tyler, Joe Morrison and Willmore himself.

Sutherland is particularly effect­ive on All Blues (credited to “Jeremy Price” – but I am sure this is a Miles Davis composition, from the album Kind of Blue), where he lays down a modal structure to enable Willmore to sail sweetly over and around the melody.

Peterson swings like mad on the Oscar Peterson-inspired Oscar for Oscar and Willmore’s piano playing on Waltz for Autumn is nothing short of beautifully accomplished by any standards.

All in all this debut release is an excellent smorgasbord of delightful tracks, some deeply meditative, some swinging merrily, all played with a confidence and maturity that belies the ages of these fine players.

If you want to purchase a copy get in touch with Shetland Jazz Club and your request will be passed on. Or you can buy it from the band, who are playing at next weekend’s Shetland Blues Festival on the Friday at 7.30pm at the Lerwick Legion Hal. There you can no doubt hear them play their excellent rendition of Deckchair Blues.

See the Shetland Blues Festival website – www.shetlandblues.info – for full details of all festival gigs.

Jeff Merriefield


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