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Paul Booth - Patchwork Project vol .1
Review by Paul Minkkinen 22nd September 2015.

Paul Booth’s new album Patchwork Project has been quite a while in the making. I was lucky enough to hear some live work in progress back in July 2014 when he played Fleet Jazz Club . Two numbers were played which were supposedly to appear on the new album, namely : Seattle Fall, and another called Bo Jo. Neither title is mentioned on the album track - list but they may well have been re-made & re-modelled, anyway they sounded good and were both an encouraging insight into what what was yet to come.

Moving forward a year later, at last I have the finished article in my grubby paws. The wording in the accompanying press release spells out Paul’s intent with this project. Back in 2013 he had an idea record an album of music ‘stylistically outside the music he had already released’. Paul has played with musicians from all over the globe. He’s also played live onstage with such greats as Steve Winwood, Santana, Steely Dan, The Allman Brothers, performed as part of the Riverdance stage show in the USA, and is a member of the BBC Big Band. That's before we even get started with the numerous jazz oufit's he’s played with. Patchwork Project was kick started by Paul reaching out to fans, friends, and colleagues using social media seeking ideas to quite literally patch the music together.

Opening track PIPE DREAM sets out Booths intent with Flaithri Neff accompanying him on Uilleann pipes. A blend of South American rhythms blended with celtic folk moves along at a driving pace and nails the concept from the outset.

Victoria Newton adds her vocals and lyrics to THERE WAS A TIME and MILES FROM NOWHERE . Both tracks also feature Satin Singh on tablas, who has been an occasional member of Steve Winwood’s tour band in recent years. The tracks could not sound more different, the first is features acoustic guitar, genteel sax and lush strings. The latter is one of my personal favourites, drenched in the sounds of India, mixing in swirling electronics, strings and sitars, marvellous !

IEMANJA is followed straight off by by QUETITUDE and both tracks take us to the genteel musical moods of Brazil, the second piece being a faithful homage to the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. The sax recording on this track is ‘so up close’ and has a real retro feel to it. A big heads up to sound engineer James Towler on this track and indeed the rest of the album.

Another gem is DRAGONFLY with it’s background ‘sounds of nature, birds insects etc’ accompanied by guitar harmonics and what I think sounds like Paul’s soprano sax ‘hovering above the water’. at 1:37 the track is frustratingly short, and my personal belief is that an extended piece in a similar vein would work a treat. The album is titled Patchwork Project (vol. 1), so maybe I could sneak in a request for Dragonfly pt.2 on volume 2 if you see where I’m coming from.

If I had to be picky I’m not sure about the sequencing of the instrumental take of NO WOMAN NO CRY works as well finishing the album. I get the reggae connection tailing on from the reggae groove on from the previous track but for me it seems a bit lost closing the album. ORCA / SATTA MASSANGA is the track that precedes the Marley cover and is a right belter. A genteel groove sets the mood, and Richard Rozze cuts in with some wonderful guitar which sounds to me as if the DNA of Steely Dan has been added, Paul Booth brings in the sax, the groove disperses and in re-invents itself effortlessly moving into reggae territory.

The album weaves it’s spell over all 11 tracks and Paul’s playing is wonderful throughout. He doesn’t dominate the music, and allows all the musicians to express themselves, it’s as much about the composition as it is the participation. Paul’s work continues to evolve, and who knows what textures, sounds and genres will be stitched into what will hopefully give us Patchwork (vol 2)

Patchwork Project is released on Pathway Records on 25th September 2015.