ZZCD 9811 – Breathtaking
The Chris Conway Band
Although born in Michigan USA, Chris Conway is now mainly resident in Britian and is known best for multi-instrumental work with the world-music group Jazz Orient/Re-Orient. On this album, he concentrates on jazz piano, his lyrical, light-fingered, usually breezy approach dominating every track. Nicholls delivers some workmanlike tenor solos, notably on Cry For The Mountains and Dodo, while the rhythm section are subtle and unobtrusive throughout. Highlight of the set is the funky, sprightly Tone Poem, the Charles lloyd war-horse which gets a thorough shaking sown here. The style is undemonstrative jazz-fusion, with a certain New Age lightness in places, which makes for a pleasant, it undemanding listen.
Jazz Rag Issue 57 July Autust 1999
Chris Conway’s notes suggest. Conway, Michigan-born and UK-based multi-instrumentalist (here mainly piano/keyboards), has his quartet improvise some 30 seconds of music each to give the audience a “breather” .In fact, you hardly need to catch your breath from such atmospheric meditations as Golden Steps (otherworldly) sounds and a simple open-spaces guitar line from Neil Segrott) or Cry For The Mountains (haunting sax and guitar). For all that the “breathers” are attractive vignettes, notably Andy Nicholls’ tenor solo which conjures up the Steppes or some- where such, complete with drone effect. It’s easy to find yourself commenting on Chris Conway’s music in such terms of imagined places or events. After all he does the same thing: “jazz on a space station” “post-apocalyptic love song”,’ “environmental feel for a folk’ tour of Germany”. One of the most inventive tracks, The Long Winter draws on Turkish and Balkan music to great effect, with drummer John Runcie switching to assorted percussion and Chris soloing on bamboo flute. Despite the wide range and occasional exotic instrumentation, Breathtaking is accessible and tuneful, with more than a nod in the direction of jazz in songs like the ballad, Dodo, a Conway original like most tracks, or Andy Nicholls’ If Only.
How Chris Conway finds the time/energy to have so many of his own projects on the go like, simultaneously will always remain one of life’s mysteries. Spookeroosville. It’s rumoured he can get a tune out of just about anything, but his true forte is piano (dig?) and nowhere more so than in the swingin’ world of jazz. Nice. “Breathtaking” is a collectable of mainly Conway-penned tunes, executed in plush turquoise lougelizard style by his Leicester-freebased 4-piece ensemblance incorporating bassmeister supreme, Neil Segrott, saxmachine Andy Nicholls and percussionist John Runcie. Groovy. This is an easy album to estimate, so consummate and easy-on-the-ear are the improvised compositions. There is a real diversity within the allover mellowness – influences from Latin, film-score, and general “world” music. It seems to be kind of ubiquitous, in an available everywheres-ville way – the USA, Japan and UK shops, Internet shops such as Amazon, and CD Now; hey, Virtual baby!
The Week – Leicester
“He’s so good he gives us a headache!”
Leicester’s Chris Conway may well be the gardest working man in show business.
An acomplished jazz pianist, he is equally known in world music and folk/roots circles – which gives us a headache at The Week trying to work out what column to put him in.
Well this week he’s in the jazz column – and quite right too, for he has released a CD with his Jazz gorup which has barely been off my car stereo all week.
Breathtaking Zah Zah CD 9811 is a compllation of Chris’s jazz music which quite frankly has a place in all discerning collections. It’s a lovely collection of mainstream/modern tunes which showcase Chris’s keyboard talents to the full, and give plenty of space to the gorgeous tenor stylings of Andy Nicholls.
You should be able to buy this in all good record stores and via the Zah Zah order page