Hutton’s second album ‘Songs From The Seven Hills’ (33jazz177) released 2008, is an evocative powerful trio recording inspired by the landscape and people of Hutton’s native Sheffield. It combines a myriad of influences from the melodic punk of the Stranglers and the music of Vaughan Williams to the more obvious influence of Keith Jarrett and McCoy Tyner. Exploring simple but effecting melodies in the form of a loosely formed suite with each segment or tune reflecting a different mood or experience. Written as a journey or round trip, the pieces ease into each other with recurring harmonic devices and recurring melodic fragments.
The album finds Hutton deliberately exploring ‘simple’ but effecting melodies in the form of a loosely formed suite with each segment or tune reflecting a different mood or experience. Written as a journey or round trip, the pieces ease into each other with two recurring harmonic devices adding further cement to the suite, as does Hutton’s use of recurring fragments of melody. Much of the music is inspired by Hutton’s memories of growing up and early musical influences abound perhaps lending a certain ‘English-ness’ to his melodic lines.
"Songs From the Seven Hills" full of original compositions covering a broad range of musical colours that he describes as "A soundtrack to my childhood memories. Music of a dreamlike quality with echoes of children's song, church music, folk song and classical impressionism."
ALBUM LINER NOTES by JIM MULLEN, March 2008
On his second album as a leader, Pianist Alex Hutton reveals a rich vein of composing skills in the ‘Songs for Seven Hills’ – a soundtrack to his childhood memories of life in and around Sheffield.
Memory often takes on a dream-like quality, and the music here reflects this, with echoes of children’s song, church music, folk song, and classical impressionism, but always with a jazz musicians’ sense of daring.
Alex has assembled a fine team for this musical journey back in time. London based U.S bassist Mike Janisch brings his rich-tone and deep pulse to the music. He is currently much in demand for his versatility and enthusiasm. Italian Drummer/Percussionist Enzo Zirilli , displays a rich palette of tone colours from his kit and knows how to groove.
The opening track, ‘Hymn’, is a powerful solo piano piece which builds a mood of child-like wonder. This leads into the graceful dance of ‘Fox House’ by the trio. The Afro-feel of ‘Autumn Fires’ features a burning solo from piano, and great rhythmic interplay from bass and drums leading to a percussive climax.
Next up is ‘Surprise Corner’, a three way conversation which left this listener wanting more. Alex displays his dazzling ballad skills on ‘Interlude’, a deeply moving piano solo. The bright ‘Ups and Downs’ is a Mehldau-like romp the trio attack with relish, including a telling solo by Zirilli.
Bassist Janisch’s feature is ‘Ballad of Beauchief Hall’ where he shows his full range of skills playing melody and solo. The next track 'Seventh Hill’ comes on like vintage Mahavishau Orchestra with the guest cellist of Ben Davis roaring over a powerful groove a-la Jerry Goodman.
‘Going Home’ reprises some of the earlier themes crafted together to create a new piece. Davis’ contrapuntal cello lines bring momentum and a ceremonial aura to the final stretch.
The penultimate solo piece - the haunting ‘Trinity Road’ – feels like eavesdropping on a meditation , the final chimes borrowing from the opening Hymn bringing a sense of completeness to the Suite. The joyful epilogue ‘Under the Apple Trees’ recalls a long lost summers’ day and the final “whistle” is dad calling everyone home.
“Outstanding… An effervescent improviser and fleet-fingered craftsman of the keyboard.”
“Alex Hutton makes vividly intelligent music that stands out head and shoulders in a crowded scene.”
03/01/2009, THE INDEPENDENT, BY TIM CUMMING,
Alex Hutton Trio Gig Review at Pizza Express Jazz Club
The British pianist lists influences from Vaughan Williams to the Stranglers. It all makes sense on the evocative suite that comprises The Seven Hills, his second album. Pizza Express Jazz Club, London W1.
18/07/2008, JOHN FORDHAM - The Guardian
(4 stars) Improvisations that join an affectingly hooky melodic knack to a rich and freewheeling impressionism as his speculations open out... It's a set that will stand high among UK jazz achievements at the year's end.
25/01/2007, the OXFORD TIMES - GIG REVIEW
Alex Hutton Trio and Sam Crowe Group @ The Spin, Oxford
"an extraordinary diversity of approach and richness of interpretation..."
10/09/2008, SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH- BRINGING SHEFFIELD'S HILLS ALIVE WITH MUSIC
"Living in London, jazz pianist Alex Hutton often found himself thinking wistfully of the countryside around Sheffield where he grew up and he ended up putting it to music. The result is an album, Songs from the Seven Hills, a suite inspired by the landscapes and people of Sheffield."
04/09/2008, ALEX HUTTON COVERAGE / INTERVIEW - Sheffield Telegraph
04/09/2008, ALEX HUTTON COVERAGE / INTERVIEW - Sheffield Star
www.scotsman.com: ALBUM REVIEW
"pleasing sense of narrative flow as it unfolds."
C&P Alex Hutton 2008.
All compostitions by Alex Hutton.
Recorded in November 2007 at 33 Records Studio, Luton, UK.
Engineers: Matt Collis, Marko Schnabl.
Mixed and mastered by Simon Changer.
Album artwork: Dom Hutton.