“ Messore is a gifted and accessible composer, and a sophisticated guitar soloist whose jazz roots go deep “
John Fordham, The Gaurdian


“From moments of almost unbearable tenderness and melancholy in pieces like The Healing Process, through the playful and dancing, to the dark and anguished this album is a significant achievement for a distinctive and confident musician. “ – Mike Collins, London Jazz News


“This is a fine and original album from a highly distinctive musician leading an exceptional band.”
Peter Bacon, thejazzbreakfast.

Indigo Kid II – Fist Full Of Notes

“On this impressive debut for Babel, guitarist Dan Messore channels Frisell, Fahey and other masters of the fret board, while managing to create a singular sound world of his own…The evocative power of Messore’s music is evident from the outset in the open spaces and Jarrett-like lyricism…A formidable improviser with an assured sense of narrative ebb and flow.” – Peter Quinn, Jazzwise

“Few pairings have achieved the blend of lyricism and musical sophistication that Messore and Ballamy bring to this album.” – Ian Mann, The Jazz Mann


An auspicious debut from guitarist Dan Messore and some accomplished colleagues.

Guitar and tenor saxophone provide, in the right hands (and mouth), a rich palette of sounds. Because that particular horn can be cheerfully light as well as broodingly low, lending tonal depth without being overly bulky, and the string instrument can be both delicate and incisive, their union has scope for sensual,fluid lyricism that retains ballast.

In other words, music that is sharply gentle rather than sleepily genteel. It is a fine line, but guitarist-composer-bandleader Dan Messore, a 2006 graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama who has also played with Kevin Figes and Trish Clowes, adroitly stays on the right side of it on this auspicious debut. Iain Ballamy plays the tenor saxophonist role, so Messore has a frontline partner of considerable experience who brings the requisite poise and drive to make this kind of endeavour work.

Ballamy’s breezy, airy timbre is perfect for the floating character of many of the melodies; yet he hardens his sound on occasion, which is important for moments when the guitar chords are wiry and not so note-heavy. The music doesn’t feel
invertebrate as a result. Double bassist Tim Harries and drummer Gethin Jones reinforce this balance, hovering right between a mellow simmer of swing and straighter folk-blues rhythms to good effect.

Messore puts his stamp on the set with some authority though, moving from woozy yet always understated pitch bends or distortions à la Bill Frisell to the kind of rapier-like single note solos that have a concision that is sometimes missing in younger musicians gripped by an impulse to play rather than think and serve the story of the song. With dreamy, hazy themes being the order of the day it’s fair to quote names like Pat Metheny and the aforesaid Frisell as references, but the seam of jazz Messore is mining goes further back to such as Charlie Byrd and Jim Hall. Messore invites us to imagine that grand old guitarist deconstructing Greensleeves with Warne Marsh rather than Sonny Rollins.

Talking of colours, Indigo is an apt name for Messore’s dark subtleties – but his future is bright.


Indigo Kid is the debut, one heckuva debut, by the British guitarist Dan Messore, fronting one heckuva quartet. Indigo Kid comprises two parts new talent and two parts young veterans. New talent is represented by Messore and drummer Gethlin Jones, experience by tenor saxophonist Iain Ballamy and bassist Tim Harries.

On this showing, Messore sounds like a contender-in-waiting for Pat Metheny’s mantle. His sound is bright and warm, his playing lyrical and flowing, he knows how to use space, and he has technique to spare. He comes on remarkably like Metheny on his straight-ahead trio outings Day Trip (2008), Tokyo Day Trip (2008) and Question and Answer (1989) (all Nonesuch). Like Metheny’s music, Messore’s is a celebration of light and beauty, rather than an exploration of darker forces.

Not that Messore is a die-stamped Metheny clone. There are echoes of folk-rock guitarists such as John Fahey, Jon Renbourn and Bert Jansch in his harmonization. And neither is Indigo Kid indistinguishable from Metheny’s trio and quartet outings; the input of Iain Ballamy—who produced and arranged in addition to playing—ensures a different character. The saxophonist, who emerged as part of the adventurous British big band Loose Tubes in the mid-1980s, and is best known today for his work with the Anglo-Norwegian jazzelectronica group Food, shares the spotlight with Messore on most tracks.Ballamy’s far-ranging style sits well with the folk-rock resonances in Messore’s

The other young veteran in the quartet, Tim Harries, played alongside Ballamy in drummer Bill Bruford’s Earthworks from 1989 to 1993—both are featured on the Earthworks albums Dig? (1989), All Heaven Broke Loose (1991) and Stamping Ground (1994), all on the EG label—while also (and here comes another folkrock strand) being a member of Steeleye Span, which he left in 2001. Since then, Harries’ credits include ex-Loose Tube drummer Martin France’s Spin Marvel (2006) and The Reluctantly Politicised Mr James (2010), both on Edition Records, and “magickal” storyteller and graphic artist Alan Moore’s audio disc Angel Passage (Megaphon, 2008).

The fourth member of the group, Gethlin Jones, studied with Messore at the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. He has worked with another talented young British guitarist, Cameron Pierre, and with trumpeter Steve Waterman, a member of Messore’s other band, Lacuna Quintet, which will debut in June 2012 with the album Talk on the Step, also on Babel.

All but one of the tunes here are Messore originals. Like his playing, they reveal Metheny’s influence, and echoes, too, of Bill Frisell. Most of his writing, Messore says, comes as a response to nature and landscape. The younger guitarist’s melodies do not evoke the wide-open spaces of Frisell’s Americana, but they do frequently suggest natural environments (and, on “Mr Lepard,” the mistymountain vibe of Led Zeppelin in its quieter moments). There are twists: “Ode to Gilly” has some of the spikey, metropolitan air of Thelonious Monk’s work, and “New Man New Place” is bossa nova-based. The only non-original, George Gershwin’s “The Man I Love,” is given a gorgeous reading. Messore is young, this is his first album, and he has yet fully to put his own stamp on the influences in his playing, but Indigo Kid is the business. Highly auspicious.

– Chris May