Album Review: Paul Richards – Episodes
The Paul Richards Trio
Paul Richards – guitar
Steve Thompson – bass
Tony Shepherd – drums
Just as Philadelphia produced great saxophonists and New Orleans incubated any number of wonderful trumpeters, so Wrexham seems to have something going on for guitarists; gypsy jazz supremo Gary Potter is a resident, and now fellow Wrexhamite Paul Richards presents this enjoyable album of trio pieces.
Richards plays nylon string throughout, and the crisp recording quality from the Retreat Studio in Sussex captures his full clear sound and clean execution. The line-up invites comparisons with Charlie Byrd’s popular Brasilian excursions of the mid sixties, and there’s an attractively paced reading of Jobim’s ‘A Felicidade’ on offer, but Richards has cast his net far wider and incorporated a range of unusual material from outside the customary bossa repertoire. Joao Pernambuco is a Belle Epoque composer, hugely important in the development of Brasilian popular music; his “Brejeiro’ and ‘Dengoso’ are attractively stately pieces, full of melody and subtle swing that underpin the choro style, and receive a sympathetically subtle treatment from the rhythm section. Paraguayan composer Augustin Barrio’s “La Cathedral” recalls some of Jaques Loussier’s experiments mixing Bach with jazz, and Lauro’s Venezuelan waltz explores similar territory, adding a more folkloric flavour. The surprise inclusion of Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” would seem an unlikely companion piece, but the trio’s restrained handling of it’s dark-toned theme makes it a perfect fit, and Wayne Shorter’s “Yes Or No” is successfully reworked in a samba flavoured arrangement reminiscent of Baden Powell (the guitarist, not the scoutmaster), driven along by subtle touches from the extra percussion augmenting Tony William’s drumkit set-up.
Two compositions by bassists round off the set. Steve Thompson’s original “Bideford” has a bucolic calm that recalls Pentangles’ jazzy folk crossover. Henri Texier has long explored the frontiers between jazz and other musical styles from across the world; his minor key melody ‘Simone Signoret’ is a perfect closer for this delightful record.