Alan Barnes – saxophones and clarinet
David Newton – piano
Alan Barnes and David Newton have been playing duets together for over 40 years. These multi award-winners cover a vast repertoire from Louis Armstrong to Chick Corea and play with an empathy that can only come with long experience. The emphasis, as always, is on swinging, accessibility and interplay. Expect a hugely entertaining programme of straight ahead jazz flawlessly played and interspersed with lots of anecdotes.
Alan Barnes is usually tagged with the rather unglamorous term “Mainstream”.
True, you’re unlikely to find him hanging out with Norwegian experimentalists, string quartets or DJ’s, issuing an album of Radiohead covers or rediscovering the joys of punk rock……
Like Peter King, Barnes is steeped in the language of bop, but is such a consummate stylist that his playing tends to buck any argument that his musical approach is conservative or out of step with the times. Whether on alto, baritone or tenor, Barnes’ melodic sense bypasses the usual scale-running clichés that pepper the playing of lesser bop disciples.
Peter Marsh, BBC Music Review.
Barnes, plays music that was radical 50 years ago – hard, urban post-bop – but he infuses it with so much passion and energy you could believe it was minted on the spot, which is always part of the story with jazz.
John L. Walters, The Guardian.
Whatever the instrument, Alan plays it hard and fast and with the sort of inventive flexibility and invention that ensures that he has his own sound and style and could not be easily be confused with another player. And in these days of musical conformity that is quite something.
You might expect something that closely mirrors classic old jazz recordings from an ostensibly orthodox reeds virtuoso like Alan Barnes. But this set has a sparkle that makes it much more than genuflection to the jazz past, even though the material was written by the great and good.
Barnes’s baritone sax swerves between the elegance of a 1930s swinger and Charlie Parker’s double-time flights on Thelonious Monk’s Pannonica; his alto spirals off into free-jazz on the gritty Sonny Rollins title track; his clarinet has a songlike purity on an almost classical account of A Child Is Born. Monk’s Little Rootie Tootie delivers the peremptory accents with a punch that makes you jump, before Barnes’s baritone muscles in. Billy Strayhorn’s Day Dream is sublime, and Victor Feldman’s Lisa is a hurtling swinger into which Barnes fits impossible-sounding turns and swerves.
Another great makeover of the straightahead jazzer’s art.
John Fordham – The Guardian
His stylistic range is quite phenomenal, from Dixieland to post-bop and must be attributed in some measure to an insatiable and lifelong appetite for listening to jazz records.
Barnes plays all the saxophones plus clarinet and bass clarinet. He has a wonderful capacity for suggesting a given style without actually imitating anyone. Johnny Hodges, for instance, is a great favourite with Barnes and he could, presumably, produce a near-perfect facsimile if asked. But what he actually does is to drop a series of feathery, soft-tongued notes in the Hodges manner as a discreet reference and leave it at that. The rest of the solo will be pure Alan Barnes. The ability to inhabit a style in this way, to include it as an active ingredient in one’s own playing, is a rare, valuable and largely unrecognized gift.
Dave Gelly, Masters Of The Jazz Saxophone
Growing up in Renfrewshire, Scotland, Newton had a musical upbringing with the piano trio sound of Peterson, Tatum or Garner an ever-present feature in the Newton household.
After graduating from Leeds College of Music in 1979 David Newton freelanced around Yorkshire and eventually became a resident musician at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough for two and a half years. A move to Edinburgh followed where theatre work using local musicians quickly led to an established position on the Scottish jazz scene but after some four years there, his old roommate from college, Alan Barnes, persuaded him to move to London where he rapidly became a much sought after pianist teaming up with Barnes, guitarist Martin Taylor and saxophonist Don Weller.
Newton’s recording career had begun in 1985 with Buddy De Franco and Martin Taylor and his first solo album was released in ’88 in association with producer Elliot Meadow who oversaw the next nine years of recording for Linn Records followed by Candid Records. Once again, in 1997, David Newton and Alan Barnes teamed up and together with Concorde Label agent Barry Hatcher, made four CDs for that label. By 2003, Newton had learned a great deal of the ways a record company operated and he set up a business partnership with former pupil Mike Daymond and they established “Brightnewday Records” initially as a vehicle for Newton’s own music but with an eye to opening up the catalogue to other artists later on.
In the first five years of the nineties, Newton’s reputation as an exquisite accompanist for a singer, spread rather rapidly and by ’95 he was regularly working with Carol Kidd, Marion Montgomery, Tina May, Annie Ross, Claire Martin and of course Stacey Kent, with whom he spent the next ten years recording and travelling all over the world. While all this was going on, Newton was composing music which he would record on his own CDs as well as writing specifically for Martin Taylor, Alan Barnes, Tina May or Claire Martin and Newton’s music can now be heard on many television productions, especially in the United States where over twenty TV movies benefit from Newton’s haunting themes. In 2003, after a twenty year gap, David Newton was reunited with playwright Alan Aykbourn having been involved with eight world premiers in Scarborough and London back in the early eighties, and he was asked to write the music for two new productions, ‘Sugar Daddies’ and ‘Drowning on Dry Land’. Currently, with the release of a new CD called “Portrait of a Woman”, on the ‘Brightnewday’ label, David Newton is relishing the musical freedom of his Trio and the special sound it makes whilst working on two other new recording projects, as an arranger and a composer.
David Newton has been voted best Jazz Pianist in the British Jazz awards for the thirteenth time in 2014 and was made a Fellow of Leeds College of Music in 2003..