Various Artists: Keep It Light: A Panorama Of British Jazz: The Modernists (él Records)


Various Artists
Keep It Light: A Panorama Of British Jazz: The Modernists
él Records/Cherry Red

The British music scene is noted for having created a number of genres, whilst being more low-key in adapting other musical styles. One such genre is Jazz; infatuated with American music, it was a style that was emulated by those in the know and a healthy jazz scene existed, but it wasn’t as fertile a field as rock and roll would be. Keep It Light: A Panorama of British Jazz: The Modernists gives a good overview of those jazz artists who did make themselves known to the music scene.

Taking its title from a maxim of legendary Jazz club owner Ronnie Scott, that’s a fitting description for the three hours of music found here: light, breezy, mellow, and downright enjoyable. While American Jazz was becoming more and more experimental, the British scene represented here was more interested in Cool Jazz, Swing, a little Bebop, and Third Stream. Thus, the influence of musicians such as Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Modern Jazz Quartet, and Dizzy Gillespie can be found throughout. Whether it’s the gorgeous, dreamy singing of Cleo Laine on “Sigh No More Ladies,” the jaunty piano runs of Victor Feldman on “Lisa,” The Tony Crombie Orchestra’s “Just Like Old Times” and The Dudley Moore Trio’s “Duddly Dell,” or the ping-ponging of vibes on The Jazz Couriers’ “Time Was” or The Tubby Hayes Quartet’s “Young And Foolish,” there’s plenty of pure easy-on-the-ears jazz to be had in this smorgasbord of a box set.

Keep It Light is a delightful gift for jazz loving Americans such as myself who may not be familiar with what the early 60s British Jazz scene was up to. Whether you’ve had a hard day at the office and need to unwind, or are curled up with a good book on a cold Saturday morning, or are hosting friends for a Thursday evening dinner party, the light sounds found here will certainly provide you with a relaxing soundtrack.

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