(5 / 5)
Who is Rob Law you may ask? Well, a quick Google (other search engines are available!) will reveal that he is the guy who was told, by all five multi-millionaire investors on the TV programme Dragon’s Den, that his invention of a ride-on suitcase brand, “Trunki”, was a duff idea with zero commercial value.
But in a classic “I told you so” moment, while he walked out of the den empty handed, it went on to sell 4 million+ units and win its now wealthy inventor an MBE! But why am I writing about a bloke who sells suitcases, in a music magazine, you may well ask. Well, I’m not….
The Rob Law in this case is not him! Our Rob Law is a stalwart of the Northern jazz scene in the UK; a talented, experienced pianist, session man, songwriter, arranger, producer, band leader and educator based in Hull.
He has recently released his debut album of originals, a refreshingly melodic modern jazz album under the guise of “Law And More”, called “Thinking In Slow Motion”.
He is joined by four skilled colleagues on the seven instrumental tracks across 46 minutes. Ben Lowman on sax’, Danny Hammerton on trumpet, John Marley on bass and Alan Drever-Smith on drums and percussion. All tracks written, arranged, mixed and mastered by Rob Law, engineered by Tallulah Vigars.
The title track opens proceedings, with a bit of a Latin feel to it; the trumpet and sax’ locked together on a fractured arrangement under-pinned by Law’s pianistic glue. It’s a damn good start.
The name of the album is derived from the subject of anxiety and depression. Experiencing a feeling of slow motion is a common symptom of anxiety, where it feels like one’s thinking and emotional self is in slow motion. Rob has recently released a track to raise funds for a mental health charity.
“The Mighty Calm” is lovely. Sounding more like Latin American dudes than a bunch of geezers from Hull, Leeds and Wakefield in the UK. Danny Hammerton’s horn cuts through like a bitch, with a gorgeous tone.
“Festina Lente” is driven along by John Marley’s solid bass lines, and again, Hammerton is to the fore on the trumpet. The track not as Latin sounding as I expected from the title, but a nice job all the same.
“Bout Time” is an eight minute and five second slinky, mid-tempo affair that bubbles and perculates from the off. Some very fine groove-soaked electric piano and bass kicking things off, before the measured horns punch through. Alan Drever-Smith’s percussion adds value.
It has nods to originators such as Lee Morgan, and even Joe Sample on the keys, and drives along nicely for the duration. Rob’s control is spot on, and he gives the impression that he has much more to give but delivers just enough to whet your appetite.
Great modern arrangement and crafted writing for what is one of the high points of the set here. The sax solo from Ben Lowman at 4.30 to 6.10 is as appetising as a Michelin-starred taster menu. For me, the track lost my attention somewhat when his solo ended and could have benefited from cutting the last couple of minutes.
“Fire And Water” rolls along nicely, with some fiery trumpet licks, crisp drums and funky bass and piano parts. “The Old Black Dog” slows things down for a melancholy offering, brushes on the kit and Chet Baker vibes on the muted horn.
Late night, low lighting, time for reflection soundtrack. The unit really comes together as a team on this one and all know where to leave space for the song to breathe, to create that perfect ambience for such a laid back and chilled ballad.
“Midnight Cactus” closes proceedings in style. Law once again turning in an under-stated and restrained contribution, and like this whole album, he avoids showboating and taking over the spotlight just because it his name on the sleeve.
Adopting “less is more” values – with the semi-concept of an exploration of different states of mind and the feelings and emotions therein. Such as anxiety, hope and bravado. He is a true band leader and a stylish arranger, and should be commended for his: “the song and the feel are the stars here”, approach. But his physical contribution is as integral to these songs and these performances as honey is to the bee.
Rob Law channels a myriad of influences, and to my ears I hear snatches of McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett, Art Tatum, Horace Silver, Dave Grusin, Michel Petrucciani, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk and more.
I suspect though, that Law’s listening fodder will most definitely include as much of the Bird and Trane’s output, as that of pianists. Perhaps the likes of Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff might well be within Law’s tastes too. But he sticks to piano on this outing. How about a funky organ trio recording next, Rob?
He melds varying styles together seamlessly, like swing, be-bop, hard bop and tinges of classical, with an innate fluidity and versatility. And it all seems like this is just the tip of the iceberg as to what he has up his sleeve and what he is capable of.
The striking thing about this collection of tracks is that this modern jazz quintet is not a going concern – assembled just for this album. But the chemistry between them and the right fit is palpable. If this were on the Bluenote, Columbia, Prestige or Verve labels, it’d hold its own against anything else in the catalogue. Sincerely.
My advice to the Law and More collective is: Get out there with this line-up and let people see and hear live, how special this ensemble and the noise you make, is.
If they do hit the road, maybe the other Rob Law will do them a good deal on a job lot of new luggage. He can afford it. Just ask Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden!!!
- Download all seven tracks for a fiver! Available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer and from: https://roblawmusic.co.uk/law-and-more
By Simon Redley
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’