Kevin Figes was a late-comer to Jazz. “I was 22 and my mum bought me a book on Jazz. I read it and went straight out and bought albums by Charlie Parker, Charlie Mingus, Coltrane and Miles. That was it. I was hooked.’ Within six months, Kevin had realised he wanted to play the music. “I’d played guitar and sang with a Rock band but nothing apart from that. I saw an ad for sax lessons in Ray’s and that it was Elton Dean. I called him and he said, ‘Have you got an instrument?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ He said, ‘Meet me in Pro Brass in Kentish Town tomorrow.’ I got there and Elton was trying these altos. He handed me one and said, ‘This will do you. Meet me tomorrow and you can have your first lesson.’” Twenty years on and Kevin releases his first album, a record so fresh and confident, you wonder what kept him. A move from London to Bristol helped Kevin decide to turn pro, as did Elton Dean’s introduction to Keith Tippett. Kevin played in Keith’s Bristol workshop band and later joined his Big Band Tapestry. He also had lessons with Tim Garland, who persuaded him to take the post-grad course at the Guildhall, where he studied with Tim, Pete Churchill, Jean Toussaint and Simon Purcell. The sounds you hear on Circular Motion are evidence of Kevin’s long musical journey. An admirer of saxophonists Chris Potter and Wayne Shorter, whose Lester Left Town features on the album, Kevin also cites Kenny Wheeler and Dave Holland as influences on his writing. Like these four, Kevin’s music has a lightness of touch that belies the subtleties and complexities that lurk within. “I do like stuff that isn’t too impenetrable but has substance to its harmonies and rhythms. That’s what hits the spot with me. Circular Motion represents different aspects of my background, whether its playing freer things with Keith Tippett or the funk side of my playing and of the Bristol scene or my love of playing changes. I wrote this album with all that in mind.” Circular Motion succeeds in covering those bases but does it through one man’s vision of his music. It’s a highly personal record but also a group performance, for Kevin’s been playing with pianist Jim Blomfield and Riaan Vosloo for several years. Amazingly Tim Giles only joined for this session, as the group convey remarkable levels of empathy and sensitivity to each other. Circular Motion flows like its title suggests. Lyrical, melodic music with a strong rhythmic sense fired by a shared love of Jazz. Knowing where you’re going means knowing where you’ve been.