Well it has been a long wait and many a day I have almost weakened and thought: sod it, I’ll just buy the CD. But, finally, the vinyl version of The Face of Mount Molehill by the Neil Cowley Trio popped through the door, several months after the release of the CD. Well, it didn’t really pop through the door. Long Players, as we used to call them, are too big for that. A man had to knock and I had to sign for it. Anyway, it was worth the wait, as it sees the usual percussive piano of Cowley (who has more hooks in him than Robson Green’s tackle box) paired with skillfully deployed strings and electronica. Strings, yes. No, he hasn’t gone soft – listen to the pounding Rooster Was A Witness or Fable, which are as infectious and inventive as ever, with incisive support from new bassist Rex Horan and Evan Jenkins on drums. The problem with a vinyl album, of course, is that you have to turn it over half way through. But, like most modern LPs, FOMM comes with a code that enables a one-off download of the MP3 version. So you get the best of both worlds – the warmth and transparency of vinyl and the convenience of digital. The former still sounds better, though, even if it does cost almost twice the price of the CD. The new trio-with-strings format gets an unusual afternoon airing on Saturday 18th November at 2pm at the Barbican, when Cowley and cohorts team up with the Goldsmiths (Big) Strings as part of the London Jazz Festival. Old favourites, new material and collective improvisation is promised. And, much as I like the new album, the band is absolutely best appreciated live.
* The Face of Mount Molehill is available as a 180gm vinyl disc plus download code on the Naim label (www.naimlabel.com) for £17.99