Review by Darren Harper
I interviewed Adrian Cox for the Jazz Matters Podcast back in January and, since then, have become extremely familiar with his Profoundly Blue project. This celebration of the work of clarinetist Edmond Hall led to Cox and his band recording two albums, one of which is nominated for a Parliamentary Jazz Award, and play countless shows all over Europe and as far as Dizzy’s Jazz Club, New York City. It’s a show I personally saw four times and booked for my own Festival back in October. It was music of the highest order.
Having finally put that project to bed, this coming January, Cox is launching a new album of original music, inspired by the tunes he has been playing over the last few years.
Vital to this new project, in my opinion, is that Cox has managed to keep the Profoundly Blue crew together. Joe Webb (p), Simon Read (db) and Gethin Jones (dr), have worked extensively together over the last few years and they are about as tight a group as you'll find. When I previously had the honour of introducing these guys, I made the bold statement that they were four of the finest musicians you will have the pleasure of seeing on the same stage - and I stand by that.
On 17th November 2019, as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, Cox aired the new album for the very first time in public and I was fortunate enough to be amongst the sell-out crowd at Hackney’s Kansas Smitty’s club. Needless to say, it was an exceptional evening and the new music was so good that I would not have been surprised had I learned that Adrian had actually found a new album’s worth of previously unheard Edmond Hall recordings.
The music came thick and fast in a 1-set, 70 minute show, which had too many highlights to mention. But one tune that really stood out was “Not That One”. Cox explained that it was inspired by the Edmond Hall track, “Neighbors”, which he has been playing for the last 2 years and, upon announcing it, had always added, “Not That One”.
It was a well constructed homage to one of Cox’s favourite pieces of music and clearly came from somebody extremely fond of Hall's work and, in true Cox style, the highly singable melody culminated in the sort of blistering solo that is somewhat of a trademark. There just aren’t many people who can do it like Adrian Cox does.
The album is also set to feature 3 duets, in which Cox works with each member of the band in turn. Of these three great tunes, “Urban Hymn” really grabbed my ear, with a wonderfully, downright filthy bass groove from the exceptional Simon Read, the kind of which would normally precede a terrible alleyway incident in a 1970’s US Cop show. This was even accompanied, in some parts, by some “dirty” clarinet, which was a real joy.
The final piece I simply must mention was a suite of five short pieces of music (I’m pretty sure it was five?) knitted together and simply called, “Suite”.
The second movement saw Cox’s clarinet singing out a stunning melody that was laden with a heavy melancholy that had a bewitching effect on the entire room. Suite then continued through the movements to culminate in a brilliant, swinging, high tempo ending.
Of course, the night of remarkable music was made all the better by Cox’s warm, welcoming and charismatic style of presentation. The combination of the two is why he is currently one of the very best in the business.
The new album, “Now Is Spring” is released on January 1st and we are all in for a real treat. The band are touring extensively at the start of the new year and I highly recommend you catch them while you can.