Kind of Jazz 2021

Kind of Jazz Rated ****

Saxophonist impresses on her sophomore album.
Inside Out is the second album by jazz saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist, Hannah Horton. It’s been nine years since her debut, but it’s safe to say that it’s well worth the wait, as this one of the most satisfying albums I’ve heard this year.
Hannah is joined by a fine band; the superb pianist, John Crawford, Rob Statham on electric bass and Nic France on drums. Horton’s friend, singer Ian Shaw, also adds lyrics and vocal to two of her original compositions.
The jaunty Keep Walking opens the proceedings. The tune aims to capture, the “vibe of moving on, not looking back, and knowing it is the right move for your freedom, independence, soul and resilience,” according to the saxophonist. She delivers a solo that captures that very spirit, before Crawford delivers a fine and funky solo of his own.
Surfing Thermals is based around a simple opening riff, and was inspired birds of prey, surfing on the warm air. As with the opener, it’s a fine composition, and demonstrates Horton’s strength as a composer, which is more evident on her new album.
The Miles Davis tune, Nardis, is the first standard to appear on the album. “This has become one of my favourite standards since divorcing,” notes Horton. “It’s strong, emotional and groovy”. Statham’s electric bass is more prominent on this tune, and he follows Horton’s solo with one of his own.
Peacocks, by Jimmy Rowles, is a delightful tune, and one that I associate with Stan Getz. Horton clearly shares this view, and regards it as one of her signature tunes. Her version is slow and reverential. Her flawless solo is gently supported by France, who switches to brushes here, and there’s a lovely solo by Crawford, too. One of the album’s highlights, for me. Windows, a Chick Corea composition, is also associated with Getz, having appeared on Sweet Rain back in 1967.
Horn Dance is an old folk tune, associated with morris dancing, but given a fun and funky read here, with the leader switching to baritone. The 170 bpm makeover works surprisingly well, and should become a live favourite. Feed The Birds, from Mary Poppins, is also given a surprising makeover, with a light calypso vibe. Again, it works brilliantly, with a lovely bass line from Rob Statham proving strong support to Horton’s tenor, and Crawford impressing as always with a solo of his own.
Ian Shaw adds lyrics and vocals to two of Horton’s compositions – Frozen Light and Breathing Out. Both are fantastic collaborations, but the latter is a real standout to me. I felt that as a tune it lended itself more naturally to a lyric, and there was a Joni-like feel to the tune, lyric and singing. Wonderful stuff.
Escape, another original, brings the album to a close on an optimistic note, with its summery, feel-good vibes.
Inside Out is a well-structured album, with a nice mix of originals and standards, and hugely enjoyable throughout. Highly recommended.