British pianist Stan Tracey is rarely a sideman these days, but here his taut trio performs with the excellent Dutch alto saxophonist Benjamin Herman and trombonist Bart Van Lier. It is a 2005 studio set, with repertoire covering four boppish or Latin-grooving Herman originals and three jazz standards. Herman combines up-tempo agility with an attractively bitter tone on long notes and a fondness for vocalised warbles that suggest Art Pepper. Van Lier is a smooth trombonist with a bright sound (though a distracting tendency to early-jazz pastiche). Tracey's zigzagging figures and double-taking silences signify an elder statesman still at his peak. Straightahead, but with kinks.
CD: Benjamin Herman, The London Session
John Fordham is the Guardian's main jazz critic. He has written several books on the subject, reported on it for publications including Time Out, Sounds, Wire and Word, and contributed to documentaries for radio and TV. He is a former editor of Time Out, City Limits and Jazz UK, and regularly contributes to BBC Radio 3's Jazz on 3