Richardson turned heads with his debut release The Chase, also on Ubuntu – little more than a year later he’s back with the follow up, with Tim Thornton replacing the NYC-bound Mark Lewandowski. Alan Skidmore guested on the latter release – here he contributes fulsome praise via the liner notes, and his role as guest elder statesman is taken by Alex Garnett. Everything about this release suggests a career set to full steam ahead: Richardson has wasted no time in creating a set of eight originals, all carefully crafted explorations of swinging modern post-bop, and the band tear into them with tremendous gusto that doesn’t preclude a fine ear for dynamics and lightness of touch when required – hear how they drop the dynamic for Klammer frontman Simpson’s typically adventurous solo on Effin & Jeffin or how sensitively the band as a whole handle the intricately constructed ballad feature Peace. Thornton is a worthy replacement for Lewandowski: his awesomely fleet-fingered unison work on Mr Tim sets up a stunningly virtuosic solo, and he’s admirably solid in support. Drummer Ed Richardson (apparently no relation) is a powerhouse performer, his fireworks on The Demise driving the band on with the power and precision of a fusion player, and giving a very contemporary feel to what is ostensibly a very traditional outing. Richardson amazes again and again with his accuracy, command of language and sheer chutzpah. The mainstream doesn’t get any more exhilarating than this.
Leo Richardson, tenor sax; Rick Simpson, piano; Tim Thornton, bass; Ed Richardson, drums. Guest: Alex Garnett, tenor sax.