Days of Blue by Patrick Naylor

Guitarist, composer and bandleader Patrick Naylor has followed the 2 exceptional albums his band made in 1999 (‘Patrick Naylor Quartet’) and 2003 (‘Afternoon Moon’) with the long-awaited ‘Days of Blue’.

Long-term sidemen Ian East and David Beebee return on sax and bass/keyboards. Equally talented musicians and singers from Viper’s Dream and Firefly, 2 of Patrick’s other bands, make significant contributions.

The jazz/fusion/world music tunes on the CD are mostly evocative of melancholic moods. Patrick and Ian’s lead lines balance each other out, as on the previous recordings. What makes this release slightly different is the sporadic addition of vocals, keyboards, cello and accordion, which bring a lighter atmosphere.

Derek Nash’s warm production, the understated drumming of Milo Fell and the fluid bass playing of Beebee and Alex Keen provide the sonic backdrop to strong melodies and solos, while the arrangements give each player a chance to stretch their legs.

Track 2, ‘Naggar’, is a vocal version of Patrick’s composition ‘Naggar Castle’, previously recorded on the ‘Patrick Naylor Quartet’ CD. The ambiguous lyrics are by Natalie Rozario, who also plays cello on the song, which is perfectly sung by Stephanie O’Brien.

The word ‘jazz’ is a loose description for this music. The opening track ‘Baba’ sounds Turkish; the enigmatic title track, ‘Days of Blue’, Brazilian. Rock and Classical music seem more of an influence than Duke Ellington, although the bebop vocabulary is never entirely absent from the solos.

An emaciated figure clings onto a Victorian lamppost on the album cover, umbrella and hat long gone, amidst crimson clouds and a tempestuous sky. With titles like ‘Waiting’, ‘Restless’ and ‘Lost Song’ contained within, the turbulent image seems appropriate. Yet there’s also that sense of peace that comes when everyone has so excellently done their bit.