Written for Ashworth's daughter, "Christina" is a soft pedaled journey into the beauty of simplicity. Playing ever so delicately, Ashworth's deeply felt melody invokes images of fun and laughter. Beautiful accompaniment from the rest of the group add flavor and dimension to this gem.
Hypnotic rhythms abound on Ibrahim's "Soweto." After stating the melody, Ashworth unleashes a series of choruses demonstrating that when it comes to playing, he delivers. A gentle pillow of sound ensues transforming the listener into a trance of beauty and grace.
Ashworth wrote "Cuban Cafe" after an inspiring trip to Cuba. The group shines throughout with a unified effort conveying the spirit of Cuba. Cupido and France's subtle percussion intertwines beautifully with the rest of the band. Ashforth pulsates the strings with fervor and conviction. Dodd takes a brief yet controlled solo before Ashforth's focused improvisation takes the song out.
Over the years there have been many great versions of Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child." Ashworth and the rest of the group put a different and need I say welcome spin on this great melody. Playing in a relaxed manor, the group allows the tune to breath and expand in such a way as to make it sound multidimensional and introspective.
Jobim's "Dreamer" is performed with passion and grace. The gentle flow of the melody along with a sense of ease is a fine example of ensemble playing at it's best.
Jaco Pastorius was not only one of the greatest and most influential bassists ever, he also wrote some great songs. Ashworth's keen sensibilities and respect are evident throughout "Three Views Of A Secret." Approaching the melody in a mid tempo fashion allows the group to create and share some interesting ideas. Ashworth is an inspiration to the rest of the band. Everyone has an opportunity to express themselves to the fullest.
We get to hear another side of Ashworth's talent with his poignant reading of "Faure's Pavane." Arguably one of Gabriel Faure's most beautiful pieces. With soft strumming and gentle support from the group, Ashworth is able to deliver a fitting end to a most enjoyable recording.
A common theme runs through Portraits. One which is balanced, well thought out and a pleasure to the ear. Supported by a cast of excellent musicians, Ashworth is able to reach a level of self expression and delivery suitable for the occasion. A bright light on the British Jazz scene, Ashworth is poised to shine a beacon around the world with a recording that will please many listeners.