jazz theory

Here are the Verge recordings. First our latest offering, a great sextet album - Eleven Flames - led by Nick Weldon on double bass and featuring Art Themen, Laura Jurd, Andra Sparks, Trevor Tomkins, and Nikki Iles. Then come two piano trio albums, Lavender's Blue and Live at the Albert, the jazz and poetry classic If I Were a Gong (with Paul Clarvis on percussion) and finally two beautiful albums by Belfast singer Andra Sparks.

Where to buy

All these recordings are available at The Jazz Shop, and can also be purchased or streamed from iTunes, Spotify, and most other online outlets.

Distributed in Japan by Disk Union and Gats Production

Wholesale enquiries to  Verge

Also, do have a look at Justice Song, over on YouTube - you'll love it!

Eleven Flames

Nick Weldon Sextet Eleven Flames album preview..

"This Thursday saw an audience sufficient to fill the house venturing off the beaten jazz track to catch Nick Weldon's sextet at Lauderdale House. Weldon's enthusiastic and informative explanations, steeped in wordplay and wit, accompanied the varied set of originals and classics. This was a fitting celebration of International Jazz Day.

His sextet is a fascinating project, bringing together a diverse selection of accomplished musicians into a musical environment combining new compositions, poetic adaptations and political insight with exuberant interpretations of classics.

The evening opened with Weldon alone on bass, then joined in duet by Andra Sparks in a strong and satisfyingly resolved vocal refrain launching the modal Where You Are. Clean horn interjections buttressed the ever-engaging improvisations from pianist Nikki Iles as she supported the back line while transforming the tone of the piece with her simple inflection. Capturing the "sensual immediacy of passion of every kind", Baby, Don't You Quit Now slunk in next. Heavy with euphemism as Andra Sparks's suggestive vocal delivery of Johnny Mercer's lyrics shone with humour, Art Themen completed the song with a raw and surprisingly dirty solo.

Things continued as an unpredictable collage, with contemplative religious trio pieces mixed in with jaunty interpretations of 17th century poetry, and classics from Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and Thelonious Monk's repertoires – each piece delivered with a historical prologue recounting stories of restoration comedy or delivering elaborate music puns. The group's evident ease on classics like Weaver of Dreams provided Laura Jurd with the space to draw richly phrased trumpet lines above the backing.

While the audience were left with a haunting rendition of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's Hushabye Mountain to end the night , it was the timely and poignant Justice Song which stole the show. Dubbed "a blues for Drums and Whispers", Justice Song was an exploration of the grief encapsulated in the blues, and the sub-genre's importance as a commentary during the struggles against racism and segregation in the southern United States in the 30s and 40s. With recent events in Ferguson and Baltimore in the spotlight, the intensity and passion that this fast-paced driven blues brought passion and spark from all. Cut with audio recordings from Malcolm X and Trayvon Martin, as well as pre-recorded whispering from the sextet themselves. Incisive explosive percussion from the fantastic Trevor Tomkins on drums completed the piece.

As Weldon explained before the set began, the gig was a run-through preview of a concept album – Eleven Flames. Yet unlike some concept albums, that are perhaps more marketing masquerading as creativity than anything else, this album was simply about exploring a range of different emotions. While some pieces may have been born from whimsical beginnings – such as the Latin melody/Latin malady pun behind the inception of Bulimia - they finished as philosophical musings on the human condition. To better describe these emotions, Weldon assembled one of the more unusual jazz ensembles on the circuit, including horn players born half a century apart, and a lamentable rarity: a gender equal band. But aside from the abundance of talent evident in the instrumentalists, arrangements and compositions alike, it was the freshness of the group's make up which made this concept concert such a roaring success".

London Jazz (Dan Bergsagel)


Lavender’s Blue

The trio’s first CD captures the essence of this exciting group. Here is what the critics have been saying:

'...sheer artistry...ecstatic groove...extraordinarily masterful..'

(Ian Carr)

'...Nick Weldon, piano-playing son of Fay, shares his mother’s gift for storytelling...Lavender’s Blue is an unqualified triumph...I cannot think of a more enjoyable and artfully sculpted British recording to have come my way in the past year...'

(Clive Davis, The Times)

'...the playing is relaxed, clear, intimate, adventurous, groovy and witty...as refreshing a piano trio album as you’ll hear all year...'

(Rob Adams, Glasgow Herald)

Live at the Albert cover


Live At The Albert

"Nick Weldon, the British pianist and composer, has been sidelined over the past decade as a terrific accompanist for singers rather than a soloist. He belongs in the tradition of vigorous, propulsive playing exemplified by such pianists as the 50s Miles Davis sideman Wynton Kelly - and he gives a pretty convincing opening demonstration of that on a headlong Falling in Love with Love, assisted by the attractively wayward notions of Paul Clarvis on drums and the unfaltering stride of Andy Cleyndert on bass. Weldon is a musician with a strong affinity for ballads, born out by the evocativeness of his melodic development in You Don't Know What Love Is. A fine bop trio live album with a quirky sensibility".

John Fordham The Guardian

If I Were a Gong cover

"Among the first releases from Verge is the remarkable If I Were A Gong, a single set in the '30's, whose narrative viewpoint comes from a sexually frustrated young lass. A rapturous melody gilds the raw emotion with melancholy. Typically, jazzmen reserve the scabrous stuff for print (Owning Up, Straight Life, Beneath the Underdog, etc), but If I Were A Gong simultaneously satisfies our puerile curiosity and need for lyrical jazz. Weldon could be onto something here". **** MIKE BUTLER (CITY LIFE)

People We Once Knew cover

People We Once Knew

"Classically trained, professionally more noted for singing Barber, Poulenc and Madeleine Dring, Sparks fits amazingly well into the jazz settings of this lovely album. Her voice is beautiful; in a process both complex and deceptively simple, she uses it to sing these songs - standards and superb originals by Kenny Wheeler and pianist Nick Weldon - as if she means them. Equally impressive is the vocal and instrumental unity of each performance, bringing out the material’s varied character, with crucial support by Weldon, Jeff Clyne (bass), Trevor Tomkins (drums) and the gifted reedman, Iain Dixon. Standouts on this rather special album include Weldon’s title track, Dring’s Through The Centuries and Wheeler’s For Jan and Wintersweet".

Ray Comiskey (The Irish Times)

Your Time cover

Your Time

''There's something remarkable about Andra Sparks' singing - sure she has the clear diction, the sense of timing and the precise intonation that you expect of a top vocalist yet on top of this she has a rare ability to create totally engaging performances without all the effort and effects on which many others depend. She just seems to sing the songs.. yet turn them into highly charged statements.'

Pete Martin JAZZ UK

'Andra Sparks moved from a background in classical music and whilst there's a trace of precise classical intonation in her singing she is clearly more than comfortable in the jazz environment. The album comprises a mix of carefully chosen standards along with a few less familiar tunes such as Dorough and Landesman's' 'Small Day Tomorrow' a number that is given an outstanding interpretation here. Sparks is accompanied by a very strong band... tender and quite beautiful reading of... 'Ballad of the Young Men'....and for me the strongest song here, Sparks' version of the title song, Ferre's 'Your Time', a song both about the fading of love within a relationship, and on another level about the diminishing spirit of life itself... she almost recites the lyrics, imbuing the number with powerful emotion. This is a beautifully sung, well played and well recorded set that I hope will gain Andra Sparks the wider audience she clearly deserves.' HI FI MAGAZINE

On this second album Sparks' husky, intimate tones are brought to bear on an interestingly varied range of songs in clean but colourful arrangements by Nick Weldon. She's especially strong on the more soulful and introspective numbers and clearly has a strong affinity with Kenny Wheeler material (his 'Sweet Dulcinea Blue' is one of the standout tracks). Well supported by her band ... some particularly edgy sax from Russell van den Berg on But Beautiful.' PENGUIN ROUGH GUIDE TO JAZZ