What makes Brian Molley tick? The question comes to mind on listening to the Glasgow saxophonist’s classy debut album as bandleader, titled simply Clock (BGMM).
There is no tune by that name on the album, although there’s certainly nothing wrong with Molley’s timing as, in the sterling company of pianist Tom Gibbs, drummer Stuart Brown and bassist Mario Caribé, he ranges stylishly through a distinctly Latin-accented clutch of his own tunes, plus a couple of standards.
“I am fascinated by the clock. And it is about time,” he suggests in his sleeve notes. “I went round the houses a few times, trying to think of a title,” he tells me. “Of course, timing is part of the whole jazz thing, but apart from the fact that I am quite fascinated by them, Clock was quite a punchy name.”
The 36-year-old Molley’s warm-toned playing is not without punch either, not least in the opener, Cara y Cruz, which establishes the album’s Latin vibe. Quite apart from the presence of Scottish-based Brazilian bassist Caribé, Molley’s Latin American inclinations go way back and he cites Stan Getz’s seminal Jazz Samba as an early influence. Last year’s Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival saw him and Caribé collaborating fruitfully with Fabio Torrés and Edú Ribiéro from Sao Paolo, with some of the results emerging on the album in the sensual bossa sway of compositions such as Iris and Her Bow and the forceful drive of Parapraxis.
So far as his own material is concerned, he says, melody remains prime – “Things have to make sense logically, but the melody is such a big part of making it mean something.”
The last time I heard Molley it was in pianist David Patrick’s bold jazz exploration of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring earlier this year, and such eclecticism comes readily to the saxophonist, whose CV includes playing credits as entertainingly diverse as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Hue and Cry and the Peatbog Faeries.
Molley and the band launch the album at Glasgow’s Ramshorn Theatre on 29 October, before heading for the Isle of Skye’s first Swing Jazz festival, where as well as leading his quartet, he’ll play in drummer Brown’s Raymond Scott Project, and with the Rick Taylor Big Band.
Meanwhile, between 9 and 11 October, the public can vote on the Jazz Album of the Year category in this year’s Scottish Jazz Awards (see www.scottishjazzfederation.com).
The other categories will be judged by a panel, overseen by an independent adjudicator, and with almost 300 nominations, they’ll have their work cut out. The awards ceremony is at Le Monde, Edinburgh, on 21 October.