Pigfoot: Pigfoot Shuffle – evergreen jazz music

Pigfoot’s 2014 debut album, recorded live at London’s Vortex Jazz Club, captured the band’s approach with the apt title The 21st Century Acid Tradition. This album was dominated by covers from Ellington, Satchmo and Fats Waller, but added “In the Midnight Hour” and “Tennessee Waltz” into the mix. Their follow-up album abandons classic jazz and expands the evergreen repertoire to include classical music and rock and roll.

Equally significant, the replacement of Oren Marshall’s tuba with James Allsopp’s baritone sax and bass clarinet altered the tonal palette. Marshall’s low-register rasp balanced the strength of Chris Batchelor’s trumpet lead, but here the bass notes are more low-register counterpoint than heavy sustain. Batchelor’s consummate lead remains intact, as do pianist Liam Noble’s broad stylistic range and Paul Clarvis’ vigorous offbeat rhythms. And while the saxophone and clarinet can’t match the rhythmic punch of the tuba, Allsopp’s flowing lines add to the quartet’s appeal and keep the band’s central aesthetic intact.

The set opens with the unmistakable melody of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel”, here performed by Batchelor’s gravelly cornet. Allsopp’s raspy saxophone exchanges phrases with Batchelor’s trumpet sounds, Clarvis smacks the beats and the track unfolds like a raspy burlesque. Then comes a tango, “Dance of the Seven Veils (Salomé)”, staged as a ballad by the delicate piano of Liam Noble. Batchelor introduces Richard Strauss’ edgy theme in plucked muted tones, Allsopp intertwines on bass clarinet and the mood is sultry and sultry.

As the set continues, the quartet captures the weight of Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” with stark textures and forbidden tones. They mix frantic atonal piano with New Orleans boogie on “Jailhouse Rock.” The album’s only ballad, “The Look of Love,” is delivered with gravity and “For Once in My Life” earns a bubbly update. The album ends with a torch song and a waltz; “Love Letters,” paired with “Song to the Evening Star,” would warm the stoniest of hearts while Burt Bacharach’s “Wives and Lovers” waltzes into the sunset like a gospel serenade.


‘Pigfoot Shuffle’ is released by Pokey Records

Ada J. Kenney