Review: Norman Watt-Roy - Faith & Grace

Album Cover - Faith & Grace
Faith & Grace  Artist: Norman Watt-Roy  Album: Faith & Grace  Date of Release: 2013/07/22  Label: Cadiz Music  Cat. No.: CadizCD118  Other:    Country of Release: UK  Genre/s: 1) Rock
2) Singer-songwriter

 Sub-Genre/s: 1) Rock-Jazz, Jazz
2) Contemporary  Type: Studio    Time: 37:31    Date of Review: 2013/08/10    Web Site:    

Sample Track :



Faith & Grace

Just released this 22nd July on Cadiz Music is legendary rock cult figure Norman Watt-Roy's debut solo album, Faith & Grace. (And who could not remember Watt-Roy's equally legendary bass lines for hits like Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax / The Clash's Magnificent 7, Ian Dury & The Blockheads' Rhythm Stick, and more?)

Once the idea of a solo album had taken root, Watt-Roy called on fellow Blockhead and jazz giant Gilad Atzmon to produce (as well as play), and they then assembled an incredible all-star line-up of the finest jazz musicians to suit Watt-Roy's jazz leanings to a 't' and then some. Pianist Frank Harrison, on piano, organ and Fender Rhodes, drummers Asaf Sirkis and Dylan Howe, on drums, and the amazing Wilko Johnson puts in an appearance on guitar and vocals on Roxette, while Owen 'Onnie' Mcintyre appears on guitar on Wachu-Wa, with drummer/percussionist Enzo Zirilli putting in an appearance on percussion on Wachu-Wa and Papa Chu Pap and Sarah Gillespie furnishing the vocals for Save It. An unbeatable team then.

The production needs commenting upon here for its sheer sonic exquisiteness and overall quality. Atzmon is a proven outstanding producer, but with Faith & Grace he has surpassed himself. Add the superlative engineering and mixing of Eastcote Studio's Philip Bagenal, and you end up with a recording that is perfection itself.

Norman Watt-Roy has always been and still is one of the greatest rock bass players, not least on account of his jazz proclivities. With Faith & Grace he proves his jazz cred admirably, while keeping one foot in rock territory. His primary influences of Jaco Pastorius and Weather Report shine through at almost every turn, and John and Mary is of course a Jaco/Weather Report piece. The opener pays tribute to Ian Dury with his Billericay Dickie, dragging it firmly into jazz territory. A further tribute is to Victor Young, with My Foolish Heart. Several of the other compositions are jointly credited to Watt-Roy and Atzmon, one to both with Sarah Gillespie, one to Watt-Roy alone, and most of the arrangements are by Watt-Roy and Atzmon. The material and arrangements are of supreme quality. In some cases, Atzmon has delightfully woven new content around and over some of Watt-Roy's most well known bass lines, such as Save It over the instantly recognisable Rhythm Stick, or Norman! Norman! over the equally recognisable Relax / Magnificent 7.

The album's title of Faith & Grace derives from Watt-Roy's Faith & Grace Custom 62 Jazz Bass built by JKG London.

Faith & Grace is an album that will just blow your mind. As riveting as it is brilliant, it is destined to be a classic. In fact, I'd call it a classic already.

If you are into any kind of either rock or jazz, or you just love a sublime bass, if you are a Blockhead, or love R&B, Watt-Roy or Jaco, Norman Watt-Roy's Faith & Grace is an absolute must have. Beg, steal or borrow won't do, you have to get this fabulous album the legit way. And the CD is a must here, with a cover by Sir Peter Blake (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) on a beautifully designed triple cardfold. The Booklet comes with a series of far better than average for our time photographs of Watt-Roy and the other participants by Tali Atzmon, Lizette Orozco, John Bolloten and Andy Lock. Own a bit of rock/jazz history!

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