Double bassist Jon Thorne has always pushed the musical boundaries especially with his band Lamb and with the musicians who make him their bassist of choice, whether that be Robert Fripp or Badly Drawn Boy. Much admired by both musicians and music fans for his undeniable skill, it is easy to ignore the fact that he is also an amazing composer. This whole album was inspired by his hero and mentor the legendary folk bassist Danny Thomson and serves as a vehicle for Thomson's virtuoso playing.
Watching The Well is an all instrumental suite written for double bass and orchestra with some interesting choral flourishes giving a haunting and sometimes medieval feel to proceedings. The 12 parts/tracks have been split into three movements, The Light That Guides, The Generous Heart and The Tie That Binds and loops seamlessly from track to track. The album was initially conceived as a performance piece commissioned for the Manchester Jazz Festival and this is evident in the structure and feel of the whole record. While Thompson is undoubtedly the star of the show, Thorne has brought together a formidable supporting cast in the shape of jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and Cinematic Orchestra guitarist Stuart McCallum but it is Thorne's compositions that shine brightest.
From the opening track The Light That Guides you are transported to a sound scape of atmosphere and surrealism that is deeply relaxing and ethereal. With the length of tracks ranging from 40 seconds to over 7 minutes, this is a record that is meant to be listened to as a whole and certainly works best from that perspective. The instrumentation is faultless throughout with Victoria being perhaps the best track to showcase Thompson's awesome bass skills.
Thorne's willingness to embrace both modern technology and beautiful acoustic instruments like the harp, cello and piano make this a fascinating musical journey. You won't walk away from this album humming any of the tunes but you will be richly rewarded by the experience.