John Sangster and Alan Lee




Three years after releasing his Hobbit Suite in 1974, John Sangster revisited the material, this time with very different instrumentation. He was joined by fellow vibraphone player Alan Lee, and the double-vibes line-up (plus pianist Tony Gould, bassist George Thompson and drummer Len Barnard) is at least as effective at realising this entrancing music as the original’s horns and percussion. It’s the lightness. No two instruments can dance around each other without adding weight to the music like two vibraphones can, especially in the hands of the eternally elfin Sangster and the super-cool Lee.

Both players were also multi-instrumentalists, and so the charming Tachyglossus Aculeatus (or short-beaked echidna to you and me) – one of the non-Hobbit pieces – has Lee playing bermibau, Sangster on marimba, Barnard playing shaker and Gould the piano. Yet some people would call Sangster’s output mainstream! Really, the great Falstaff of Oz jazz was too much of a shape-shifter to abide by definitions or idioms, and music was a limitless playground to him. Originally an LP on the fabled Swaggie label, Double Vibes is finally enjoying a first-ever digital release. It will fill your day with silver light.