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Recording of the Week, Trish Clowes & Ross Stanley - Journey To Where

Image: @UniKent_Music
Image: University of Kent

It seems that good things really do come in small packages! Having first made waves together on My Iris (2017), it’s safe to say that Trish Clowes and Ross Stanley’s combined aftershock continues to ripple. Recorded live in what seems like a whole other lifetime almost three years prior to its release this month, this current project has rapidly grown out of the duo’s initial period of musical acquaintance before flourishing into a inseparable package of harmonious dialogue, presented here for the very first time on Birmingham-based Stoney Lane Records. 

As chief representatives of British jazz, their most recent concerts together have featured music by Duke Ellington, Nikki Iles, Osvaldo Farrés, Marcel Dupré and Lili Boulanger, with each internationally-recognised composer now firmly set in place amongst a programme of original compositions that make up Journey To Where’s track listing. Of these, the first two numbers are lovingly dedicated to the pair’s respective artistic heroes: John Taylor (‘Ashford Days’) and Wayne Shorter (‘Decently Ripped’). Elsewhere, we are offered glimpses of Stanley's musical upbringing as an organ scholar, with titles like 'Prelude in G Minor' (after Dupré) and 'Gloucester Service' (a reverent nod to Herbert Howells) both tingeing the album with the glisten of former scholastic promise, now fulfilled. 

What really sells this album is the immaculate pairing of either musician, who each sits comfortably in the other's palm throughout. The myriad ways in which they mimic one another, echoing in and out of unison as they offhandedly trade their moments in the spotlight, suggest the unbreakable kinship shared by these two creative co-pilots.

Image: Chris Kelly
Image: Chris Kelly

Far from just a one-size-fits-all approach, you can sense the active presence through which the pair attentively gauge the demands of each musical style they encounter. Expertly handling the dour romanticism conjured by ‘Tres Palabras’, these adept running mates can’t help but ebulliate well beyond the rhythmic constraints the tune’s sombre bolero initially suggests. The palpable sense of motion with which they set off on every jaunty vamp allows the pair to continuously recalibrate their journey, forever aligning their final destination with an ultimate feeling of safety upon arrival free from predestined cliches.

With every unfurling composition providing further insight into just what makes this pared-back combo tick, we are fortunate enough to glean some of Clowes' own personal inspirations, too. Aside from the towering figure of Wayne Shorter, whose influence will be felt across the jazzosphere for all eternity, there is a touching tribute to spearheading vaccinologist (and amateur saxophonist) Dame Sarah Gilbert ('Sarah'), not to mention a chilling folk song rendition that allows the musician to expand her craft in exciting new ways ('The Month of January'). 

Highlighting a sublime partnership of which UK jazz fans ought to be proud, the immaculate setting of Wigmore Hall (where Clowes has been serving as an Associate Artist) makes this recording the perfect Presto crossover for any listeners interested in exploring the ever-expanding roads where jazz and classical music happen to meet. 

Trish Clowes is touring with Ross Stanley across the UK this Spring. 

Trish Clowes & Ross Stanley

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC