Saxophonist Alex Merritt has circulated in the upper echelons of London jazz society for a number of years, appearing at Ronnie Scott’s, Pizza Express and so on, but fairly recently moved to Bristol, from which base he travels to teach at the Royal Welsh College. He’s already had quite an impact on the Bristol scene, popping up at various venues and notably collaborating with trumpeter Nick Malcolm. For tonight however he reunites with his London colleagues as part of a national tour to promote new CD Mind-Ear Ladder, and what an incredible line-up it is.
Co-leading the project is trumpeter Steve Fishwick, surely one of the finest jazz trumpeters the UK has ever produced. He has a truly international reputation having recorded in New York with legendary Jazz Messengers pianist Cedar Walton and has performed in New York at venues such as Smoke, Smalls and Dizzy’s Club. He is also well known across Europe and has appeared as a guest with the famous German WDR big band. His style blends elements of players such as Kenny Dorham and Woody Shaw to create his own unique approach. He has even been highly praised by Wynton Marsalis – “Steve has his own style. He plays from the bottom to the top of the horn whilst maintaining the integrity of the chords. I can’t think of another trumpet player that can do what he does.”
The rhythm section is of course all of equal pedigree, centred on the piano of John Turville, who tutors at Birmingham Conservatoire. “World-class, exquisite and constantly inventive” – Jazz Journal. Bassist Mick Coady is originally from Ireland, where he has worked with players such as Michael Buckley, and since moving to London has been part of the Loop Collective, playing alongside luminaries such as Ivo Neame. Drummer Matt Fishwick is Steve’s equally talented twin brother, and the two appear on many of the same recordings.
The new CD Mind-Ear Ladder sounds absolutely great, and could well be an early 2022 “best album” contender. When the front-line deliberately emulate the pairing of Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw in places you could think you were listening to a long-lost Blue Note classic. Album releases 24th Jan.