Trace Elements

Composed, arranged and directed by Steve Melling


Piano: Steve Melling
Sax: Art Themen

Track list:
  1. CRANBERRY ROCK (Melling): Written in the late 80’s as part of the Stiperstones Suite (C.Tracey/Melling), commission by Leasowes Bank, Shropshire, and named after six outcrops of rock on a nearby range of hills.
  2. TRACE ELEMENTS (Melling): Steve’s “thank you” suite of 3 pieces, dedicated to Stan Tracey, acknowledging the specific significance of his great music, personal friendship and creative support.
    1. Foot Tappin’: After a conversation in which Stan told Steve he “just likes the 'foot tappin'' in jazz”.
    2. Trace Elements: A beautiful ballad, drawing on elements of Stan's style and Steve’s personal take on it.
    3. Standemonium: Opens with an up-tempo use of spontaneity, with it's inevitable moments of discord to create tension, as Art and Steve both “play just as we feel, reacting to what we hear”. This tension and discord is eventually eased by the duo finally moving towards a more classic jazz sound and feel.
  3. SUMMER HOBO (Tracey/Surman): Originally featured on John Surman and Stan Tracey’s “Sonatinas” LP (Bracknell 1978) it gained popularity as the signature tune for Jazz Record Requests. From the moment Art and Steve began playing together it was evident that there was a very sympathetic mutual rapport. This relatively simple theme with a very basic harmonic pattern gives the duo great freedom to simply dive in and playfully “knock sparks off each other!”
  4. CREPUSCULE WITH NELLIE (Monk): Composed while Monk’s dear wife Nellie was undergoing surgery. Crepuscule is the time of day immediately following sunset, and it's easy to imagine Monk, in the dusk, gently tending to his ailing wife. This is probably one of Monk’s most poignant ballads and an example of a theme which can be played almost without embellishment “Steve's nuanced interpretation captures this perfectly” (Art).
  5. FUNKY DAY IN TIGER BAY (Tracey): Part of Stan’s “Cardiff Chapter Suite” and a prime example of Stan's humour and mastery of tune titles, Steve has fond memories of recording it at Ronnie Scott's in 1985, as a member of Stan’s six piece band “Hexad”.
  6. JUST A BLUES (Melling) also known as “What About Us?” referring to the huge amount of time musicians spend traveling - taking them away from their home and their loved ones. Steve even penned a verse or two of lyrics as he finished the 12-bar melody (recorded by vocalist Esther Miller). One verse says it all: I want you with me darlin’, Sharin' the journey, Our time is so important to me, Yes, I know you've got your thing, That you're totally into, I don't mind that, But now and again, What About Us?
  7. ERONEL (Monk): The Christian name, spelt backwards, of Lenore Gordon, a young woman about town in New York. A more straightforward bebop theme peppered with the unmistakable twists of its composer’s quirky style.
  8. PANNONICA (Monk): One of many tunes dedicated to Pannonica de Königswarter (nicknamed “The Baroness”) who, after hearing Monk’s recording of Round Midnight abandoned her family and aristocratic life in Mexico - remaining a great fan and benefactor of the New York jazz scene, and a particularly close supporter and friend of Thelonious and Nellie Monk. Harmonically more challenging than Eronel it gives the duo more juicy material to sink their collective teeth into!