2007 is an exciting year for Paul Booth. This year the Paul Booth Quintet are on tour with their new album, and Paul is also touring with rock legend Steve Winwood, Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance, Tim Garland’s Northern Underground Orchestra and Derek Nash's Sax Appeal. Paul’s second album No Looking Back showcases Paul’s modern melodic sensibilities with intricate rhythms across a number of original compositions. The solid rhythm section underpins some frantic improvisation and there is a real sense of interplay.
He is a regular
at Ronnie Scotts jazz club in London with his own band and others and
has done several UK tours under his own name with the backing of Jazz
Services and Jazz Action. Some other jazz groups he has been involved
with include Arnie Somogyi's Ambulance, Sax Appeal, The New Couriers,
Mike Garrick Big Band, Tim Garland's Northern Underground Orchestra etc.
13/10/07 Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph
Paul Booth is still only 30 but he has long enjoyed a reputation as a sax player of mingled shapeliness and intensity, the tone never forced even when he's blowing up a storm – as he does more than once on this new CD.
It also shows him to be an interesting composer with a quirky rhythmic sense. The title track flits back and forth between a three- and four-beat pulse in Philip-Glass-like fashion, while A Time for Change is in a louche seven-in-a-bar.
Among the new pieces and the odd standard (Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now is lovingly reinterpreted) there are new pieces where Booth strikes a graceful, quasi-Renaissance modal tone. Add to all this an excellent supporting quartet, and the result is a delight.
01/10/2007 Martin Longley, Jazz Review
Emerging from mysterious Ramsgate, Booth may well have been experienced by many, either onstage or on disc, but they might not remember having witnessed him, so vast is the roster of horn sections he's graced. Actually, I've just realised that I saw Booth as part of Roberto Pla's orchestra at Brecon, only last month. This sinewy tenor-blower is only now beginning to refine a personal signature as leader. His second solo disc feels like it's going to enjoy a much greater presence than the 2004 debut, It's Happening, on Jazzizit. The music herein will certainly establish Booth's shining new position, as both composer and soloist. The Basho label is also increasing its momentum on the UK scene, becoming a prolific home to quality recordings, an ever-more important platform for both new and established talent. Performance and production are rippling with assurance and power. Booth is now ready to present himself as a bandleader, confidently soloing with a steelytoned tension. He also shades out section-work with his own alto flute and bass clarinet, being very aware of texture and touch. The two minute “Interlude" is a capsule example of Booth's potential for soundtrack work, a childlike fairground dismantling that also features his piano and melodica overdubs. As he's so often found in an extra-jazz musical context, some of these outside sessioneering influences must be healthy, sometimes filling Booth's compositions with an alien energy. That is, aside from his choice of Joni Mitchell's “Both Sides Now" as one of the album's three cover versions. On this scribe's subjective level, it's a particularly quease-making tune. But Paul soon redeems himself by playing Duke's “Come Sunday" as a completely solo display, leading into the Mingus freak-out of “Better Git It In Your Soul". Such a contrast, interleaving gospel's two sides: spiritual contemplation's invaded by fast handclaps, then the band levers in at speed... Guitarist Stuart McCallum is here for a purpose, and that's to spread blues and soul grit across his appearances on six of the cuts. The rest of the band are emphatically jazzy, but McCallum's solos and chordings nudge Booth's compositions sideways, just far enough to impart an enjoyably split personality.
The Scotsman, Kenny Mathieson
You have to hand it to Christine Allen and Basho Records. They keep unearthing fresh, young British jazz musicians and encourage their talents by giving them the opportunity to record. Following the talented pianist Tim Lapthorn we now have the prodigiously gifted saxophonist Paul Booth.
Booth has worked with many big names in both the pop and jazz fields (most notably Steve Winwood) and this album is major statement of his jazz credentials. Booth is featured mainly on tenor saxophone but also on a number of other instruments. The versatile Mike Gorman (last heard as an organist in Jim Mullen’s trio) is at the piano with Phil Donkin on bass and Loop Collective member Dave Smith on drums. Mancunian guitarist Stuart McCallum, himself something of a rising star, adds his distinctive sound to six of the album’s ten tracks. It all makes for an exciting and highly talented young line up.
The lengthy title track opens the album and finds Booth overdubbing himself on alto flute and bass clarinet alongside his trusty tenor. It’s a rich mix with Booth’s assured tenor floating effortlessly over the complex rhythms. McCallum’s jagged guitar provides part of the rhythm track and he also features in a melodic context with a sparkling solo. Gorman too, announces himself with an inventive solo and proves that he is also a fine pianist.
“Andorra” is more pastoral and lyrical with an innate tunefulness
redolent of Pat Metheny. There is more fine soloing from Gorman and Booth
plus a highly melodic contribution from Donkin at the bass. No matter
how far the soloists probe, the relaxed and sunny vibe and essential melodiousness
of the piece always shines through.
post bop of“Penguin Dance” lifts the tempo. Rhythmically complex,
the piece is driven along by the remarkable drumming of Smith. Solos come
from the ever-inventive McCallum followed by Booth’s powerful but
fluent tenor. Gorman’s piano vamping frames a series of drum breaks
from the agile and energetic Smith. Exhilarating stuff.
form a segue into a joyous version of the Charles Mingus classic “Better
Git It in Your Soul”. Gorman delivers a rollicking piano solo and
it is appropriate that the consistently excellent Donkin is also featured.
Is Life” is a reflective feature for Booth on soprano introduced
by Gorman on solo piano and also containing a bass solo of rare sensitivity
from Donkin. Booth’s feathery tone has something of an oboe like
quality about it.
This is in fact Booth’s second album as a leader. His first, “It’s Happening” was released on Trudi Kerr’s Jazzizit label in 2004 to glowing reviews. I’ve not heard this as yet but if it reaches the same high levels as his latest offering it should be well worth investigating.
“No Looking Back” is remarkably mature statement from a highly talented saxophonist and composer. Booth makes the sophisticated sound effortless, and with sparkling support from a highly talented band this latest album should put him firmly on the jazz map. Excellent.
The tag 'one of the hottest young players around' is probably overused in some circles, but where saxophonist Paul Booth is concerned, it's simply a factual description; his is a rich, almost fruity sound, but none the less capable of swaggering excitement, and on both his own material on this, his second album as leader, and on pieces by Duke Ellington (a solo 'Come Sunday') and Charles Mingus (the wonderfully rumbustious, helter-skelter 'Better Get It in Your Soul'), he is simply riveting, eloquent and powerful.
Guitarist Stuart McCallum is a fine foil, particularly in his utilisation of a wide range of sounds in his accompanying role, and the rhythm section muscular but sensitive pianist Mike Gorman, bassist Phil Donkin and drummer Dave Smith is robust enough to keep the band on its toes for the album's entire 62 minutes.
Booth's compositions are intelligently varied without undue fussiness, but his visit to Joni Mitchell's precociously philosophical 'Both Sides Now' (her equivalent of Billy Strayhorn's 'Lush Life') is possibly the album's highlight, tender, thoughtful and respectful without being over-sentimental.
A thoroughly unpretentious but musicianly album recommended.