The British jazz community has a curious bible, or, more accurately a Concordance. Dave Newton's "Alternative Professions" contains playful references to other occupations which the country's established jazz musicians might have, as (normally) suggested by their outward appearance.
Four of the seven musicians on the stand for Ian Shaw's second night launching his "Abbey Road Sessions" CD - have entries in it. Whilst the entries for Shaw himself, for top-flight drummer Gene Calderazzo, for masterly saxophonist Peter King are either obscure jibes or in-jokes, there is one alternative profession which is readily understandable - and particularly apt. It reads:
The veteran bassist with his resplendent white mane and beard does indeed look these days as if he could have descended either from the roof of the Sistine Chapel, or even directly from a cloud. And the words with which Ian Shaw welcomed him to the stand bore witness to the reverence in which the singer holds him: "You are the reason for this project."
Ian Shaw and subtle guitarist David Preston have jointly arranged a series of songs, which were recorded at Abbey Road studios. The permutations of seven musicians gave ample scope for the acoustic possibilitites of the band to shift in interesting directions.
The opener, a dark and atmospheric version of "Get Out of Town" - with solos for young trumpeter Miguel Gorodi and pianist Phil Ware - used all the colours of the full band. The closer "Today I sing the Blues" gave the same full compliment the chance to stretch out and craft solos, an opportunity which alto saxophonist Peter King and David Preston seized in style. And in between there were outings for different trios and quartets. But what stays in the mind is Ian Shaw's capacity as performer and as musician to hold the interest in a line through vocal swoops, yodels and leaps, through fascinating verbal tangents and clever asides. And above all, a less-is-more moment shared by Ian Shaw and Peter Ind in the hushed preamble to Michael Jackson's Human Nature. That one came from from the heart.