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Reviewed by Abraham Kunin

Ben Wilcock and the Jelly Rolls: Sneaky Weasel

Reviewed by Abraham Kunin

Ben Wilcock and the Jelly Rolls: Sneaky Weasel

The debut album from Ben Wilcock ’s Wellingtonian jazz piano trio is a melting pot of near anachronistic humour and sensibilities. This is meant as a compliment, as it is both self-aware, and elegantly executed.

Further adding to its convolution of the musical space/time continuum, it is also the first album in the country to be released on a USB credit card. While attempting not to digress too much, this is a really excellent idea, offering mp3, 24-bit WAV, and video content in a considerably more stylish and physically gratifying format than the download code. I expect to see this catch on.

The music is exactly as its quirky press release implies – a patchwork of stride, boogie woogie, and the pervasive pianistic influences of Garner, Waller, and Jamal. This is no mean feat to pull off convincingly. Drummer John Rae, and upright player Dan Yeabsley are excellent foils for Wilcock’s exploits, and obviously also have an appreciation and understanding of the music and associated vocab they are playing. And they swing hard. Colin Hemmingsen on bass clarinet and Nick Tipping on bass also lend their skills on selected cuts.

It’s good to hear such obviously competent players give the beauty and music latent in a simple vamp or blues form time to unveil itself. This restraint speaks as much to their musicianship as any technical prowess. Not that what they are playing is easy, by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that the band are also having fun makes the listening experience that much more enjoyable. ‘Sneaky Weasel’ is a combination of timeless standards (Waller, Porter and Ellington) and originals. Tastefully arranged and beautifully performed, it’s also one of those albums where if you like one track, you’ll probably like them all.