Author: Adrian Jackson
Bassist Sam Anning’s second album as leader came about by accident. He had been based in New York for a year or two when he returned last November for some gigs with NY-based vocalist Cyrille Aimee. A snag with his visa paperwork meant he had to delay his return to the States, and he filled the time by booking a recording session with saxophonist Julien Wilson and drummer Allan Browne.
Thankfully, Anning is a better musician than visa applicant. Sweethearts is one of the strongest local releases this year. The session is bookended by two brief, meditative version of an attractive original, ‘Cactus Flower’. Between them, the trio plays a few originals (three by Anning, one by Wilson), and some not-too-standard standards, including Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Little Brown Book’ and two by Irving Berlin, ‘The Best Thing For You’ and ‘Remember’.
This is a relaxed session, the three players obviously familiar and comfortable with each other’s approach. Wilson is eloquent on his usual tenor saxophone – his interpretation of the Strayhorn ballad is masterful – but also effective on the tracks where he switches to soprano sax, clarinet or bass clarinet. He is mostly in a restrained mood here, but there is still the occasional hint of urgency or fire in some of his flurries or exclamations. Anning takes several articulate solos, and elsewhere combines seamlessly with Browne in maintaining a flexible pulse.