Stan Tracey albums
Notes: © Ian Carr A lot of real love has gone into the making of this album
The main ingredients - Acker's clarinet, Stan Tracey's scores, and the brass ensemble - which came together in the recording studio with almost perfect results, were all informed by a deep love of the whole jazz tradition

The three famous jazz classics - Royal Garden Blues, Tin Roof Blues and Mood Indigo, seem to have inspired Stan Tracey to write arrangements which go beyond mere craftsmanship: each one is a small masterpiece, developing organically all the way to the end

And Tracey's arrangements, in their turn, seem to have inspired the brass ensembler to play with a precision and feeling for time that simply couldn't be surpassed by any similar ensemble in the world today
A very slow number is a real test for any band, but the poise and lazy attack of this brass ensemble on Mood Indigo is about the nearest thing to perfection I've heard
Acker, too, was inspired by the occasion
His sound seems even more beautiful than usual as he weaves his solos into the texture of the arrangements with real brilliance and sympathy

Royal Garden Blues is a track which reveals all the best qualities of the album
It seems to contain the quintessence of jazz
First, the rhythm section - pivoting on the huge, rock-steady pulse of bassist Dave Green - swings like the clappers all the way
The arrangement is never over-complicated or pretentious: instead it is full of rhythmic vitality, and whilst, subtly, recalling earlier versions of the tune, it offers Stan Tracey's highly personal variations on the melody
When the ensemble brings out the second strain there is a really creative re-working of the melody, and from then on it's a perfectly balanced and logical development of soloist and riffs until the final return of the theme
Acker Bilk is, of course, the main soloist, but there are some excellent solos by Tony Coe on tenor saxophone - the only other reed player on the album
Also, as a sort of bonus, there are trumpet solos by Kenny Wheeler and Ian Hamer on Festival Junction, and a trombone solo by Keith Christie in Blues For This Year
Unbelievably, nearly all of the eight tracks were first takes, and this helps to explain the freshness and air of excitement which permeates the whole album, capturing, as it does, one of those rare and magical moments when writer, soloist and instrumentalists are blended into one perfect organism
And it was made with real love - an increasingly rare commodity in these dog-days of sensationalism and the fast buck! This is why BLUE ACKER affords so much sheer pleasure and delight, to connoisseur and casual listener alike