The best of Bobby Wellins on record

Jazzwise is saddened to hear of Bobby Wellins' death. Peter Vacher interviewed the great saxophonist in the magazine 10 years ago, and he provided this list of Wellins' finest recordings:

WellinsStan Tracey Quartet

Under Milk Wood (1965)

Trio TR564

Tracey had Wellins in mind when he composed his suite inspired by Dylan Thomas’ famous radio play. Both men rose to the occasion magnificently; Wellins is especially eloquent on ‘Starless and Bible Black’. A defining career moment.



wellinsStan Tracey Quartet

With Love From Jazz (1967)

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Newly remastered and reissued, Tracey’s later suite evokes “the tragic-comedy of human love” and has the two protagonists at their quirky best. Wellins swings hard on Two-Part Intention’ supported by Dave Green’s purring bass and is hauntingly fragile on the lovely ‘Amoroso Only Moreso'.




WellinsBobby Wellins

The Satin Album (1996)

Jazzizit JITCD 9607

Wellins is a ballad master and excels on this sublime examination of the songs from Billie Holiday’s 1958 recording, Lady In Satin. The late pianist Colin Purbrook plays sparingly but sweetly and Bobby’s tenor improvisations, spacious and quite sensual, are among his best on record.




WellinsBobby Wellins Quartet

The Best Is Yet To Come (2000)

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Wellins was inspired by a rather different vocalist in this fine album of songs associated with Tony Bennett. His unique sound, plaintive yet robust, is beautifully caught and there’s plenty of thoughtful piano from Bobby’s current associate, Liam Noble.




wellinsBobby Wellins

Fun (2003)

Jazzizit JITCD 0434

And it is, with Mark Edwards playing Hammond or piano as drummer Spike Wells clatters away. Wellins hoots and hollers as only he can and everyone seems to be having a ball. Fun? Just listen to the ‘The Odd Couple’ or the swingy ‘Smouldering’.





wellinsBobby Wellins/Wells/Edwards/Cleyndert

When The Sun Comes Out (2005)

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Recorded live at the Appleby Festival, this retains the Fun quartet and is another breezy affair. Wellins is a fund of ideas and Edwards presses hard over Cleyndert’s bass and the inspirational drumming of Wells.





And don't miss...

wellinsBobby Wellins/SNJO

Culloden Moor Suite (2014)

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Although there are solo cameos for Tom MacNiven, Steve Hamilton and drummer Alyn Cosker (who also provides the militaristic underbed for the ‘March’ movement) this is really all about Bobby Wellins. His tone is as blurry and magnificent as it was in the 1960s, his phrasing as oblique, yet centred, and his ability to channel forceful feelings while appearing not to, is quite magical. His duet with the drums on ‘Battle’ and his reflective keening on ‘Epilogue’ are as fine as anything he has ever recorded.



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