"Flanagan Ingham" is not a person, but rather the combined last names of Kevin Flanagan and Chris Ingham, leaders of this quartet. Textile Lunch is the group's second album which, like its first, expresses the ambience and mood of a specific geographic location. The quartet's first album Zanzibar grasps the essence of that area, while this latest effort is built around a Barry Gifford description of a journey to Jack Kerouac's hometown of Lowell, MA. The four-piece mini-suite (tracks six through nine) "Textile Town" expresses Gifford's protagonist's quest for Kerouac, with the first stop on the search reflected by "Moody Street," the beat author/poet's address. What follows is a march around the formerly flourishing but now aging city, visiting spots where Kerouac might hang out. Each of the "movements" in the suite offers assurance that this stop will be successful, and then disappointment when it isn't. The quartet's playing and Ingham's authentic score capture the ups and downs of the tale.
Ingham's vocals combine the breathy qualities of Chet Baker with the cool hip of Dave Frishberg or Bob Dorough. American-born and now British resident Flanagan plays various saxophones in the manner of a pre-"sheets of sound" John Coltrane. Although it's not listed as one of his instruments, Flanagan plays clarinet on the ballad "Maxine." This session has a '50s or '60s ambience about it. The lessons of bop have been well learned and the playing is appropriately cool, while avoiding being rambunctious or grating. Most of the play list is by Flanagan and/or Ingham. The one non-original is Duke Ellington's "Warm Valley," where Flanagan honors Johnny Hodges' sensuous solo. To further the '50s and '60s aura, works of ageless hipsters Frishberg and Dorough are present and given their due. Ingham's rendering of Dorough's "Devil May Care" will make the master proud.
Formed in 1995, the Flanagan Ingham Quartet has received positive reactions from jazz critics and, much more importantly, the public. It has worked such important venues as Ronnie Scott's famous jazz watering hole as well as various jazz festivals. The group delivers the permutations of bop and early post-bop jazz in a refreshing and engaging way. This is an excellent outing and is recommended.