The Martin Drew Band w. Brian Smith: Child is Born (1977)

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The Martin Drew Band w. Brian Smith: Child is Born (1977)

For many decades Martin Drew - who died in 2010 -- was the go-to drummer in Britain.

A partial list, which he drew up himself, of the people he'd played with included Lee Konitz, Woody Herman, Paul McCartney, Dexter Gordon, Chico Freeman, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Warren Vache, Oscar Peterson (in whose band he was), Chet Baker, Chico Freeman . . .

Most of those jazz players he worked with in Ronnie Scott's club where he was a regular and a longtime member of Scott's own group.

But Drew also ran his own outfits and this track is lifted from an album The Martin Drew Band; British Jazz Artists Vol 3 with liner notes by Humphrey Lyttleton.

Of special interest is the saxophonist, expat New Zealander Brian Smith who arrived in Britain in '64 and deputised for Drew's saxman Tony Coe . . . and also blew the blues in Alexis Korner's group.

He certainly plays the blues on this album on Thad Jones' Strut Your Stuff but it is this Jones-penned piece I have been regularly returning to, a lovely ballad where Smith plays it straight on the understated melody, hands it over to vibes player Bill Le Sage who in turn passes it on to bassist Ron Mathewson.

It is a quietly hypnotic piece from start to finish.

Smith subsequently returned to New Zealand after many years working in the UK and since the early Eighties has been a mainstay of the local jazz scene. His self-titled '86 album for Ode on which he also played bamboo flute is long overdue for a reissue . . . but this is him in his formative years.

And he's all class in similarly fine company. 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

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