JAMES MORTON’S PORKCHOP: Don’t You Worry ‘Bout That (Label: Fresh Ground Records)

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JAMES MORTON'S PORKCHOP: Don't You Worry 'Bout That

James Morton is a Bristol saxophonist who graduated with a Masters Degree from the Guildhall School Of Music. Quite impressive… but soul and jazz licks can’t be taught and as a student and since graduating he’s played with people like Raphael Saadiq, Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis, Jean Toussaint, Keith Tippett, Wynton Marsalis, Billy Cobham, Orphy Robinson , Jason Rebello and Snowboy. A perfect apprenticeship, it would seem, to make great music of your own and with his combo – Porkchop (Dan Moore, Hammond; Ian Matthews, drums; Danny Illet, guitar) he’s done just that. Best contemporary reference point for the music on ‘Don’t You Worry ‘Bout That’ is Aussie band, Cookin’ On 3 Burners, who themselves reference the great Sax/Hammond soul-jazz groups of the sixties. Porkchop lay their credentials on the table with the opener, ‘Goin’ Home’. It rides its own soulful groove but you could be listening to mid sixties period Stanley Turrentine or the Billy Larkin band when they featured Clifford Scott on sax. ‘Forgiven’ is a blues-based slow burner, while the lighter and more playful ‘Sometimes Shit Just Goes Down Like That’ has a feel of early Jazz Crusaders. The two covers on the album show the direction the band are going in. They offer a respectful, rhythmically energized reading of Eddie Harris’ ‘Cold Duck Time’ and a very mellow and rather lovely version of the Billie Holiday standard ‘God Bless The Child’. Very different is a wild and free, self-created ‘Predator’ a little out of kilter with the rest of the album while I couldn’t really see the point of the two very short ‘skit’ pieces. I guess I’m just missing something. However, they don’t spoil a pleasing debut that all soul-jazz fans should investigate.
(BB) 3/5