Category Archives: New British Jazz

Hard Evidence Trio live at DIY Space For London

I was following up on a tip from London Jazz Collector when I ventured into a previously unexplored domain of former light industrial units. The blighted environment signalled that I was closer to the Rustbelt than the Ritz. Just like in Detroit, however, sprouts and shoots of regeneration may slowly be emerging in the badlands between Deptford and Old Kent Road where a new volunteer-run resource DIY Space for London is at the forefront.

I was there for A Celebration of the life and Music Of Thelonious Monk, essentially a gig and a film organised by Tome Records, a record shop based on the premises.

My mini-adventure paid off. Music was provided by Hard Evidence Trio, in the form of a fiery free-leaning interpretation of a sequence of improvised tunes that had recognisable Monk themes as their springboard. It wasn’t the dry, dusty formulaic music of the supper club or jazz brunch and it was all the better for that. It was the uncompromising sound of a mid-sixties Impulse set. Indeed, I was sure that I heard the ghost of Alber Ayler banging on the door, clamouring to be let in.

John Edwards (bass), Steve Noble (drums) and Adrian Northover (Soprano and sopranino saxes) make up Hard Evidence. They played with passion and displayed excellent musicianship. If you are open-eared enough to listen to music that ventures into that fantastic free space beyond the conventional chord changes you should seek them out. There’s a link here.

The live performance was followed by a showing of Straight No Chaser, a Monk bio-pic released by Clint Eastwood’s production company. I’d never seen this before and the glimpse it gave of the great man was, in parts, exciting, informative and occasionally sad.

Thanks to Tome Records for putting the evening on and good luck to DIY Space for London who are trying to do things differently with an eye to making a better world.

If you like what you have read, please touch or click on the ‘like’ box. Comments are also very welcome. downwithit.info contains over 150 individual posts about Modern Jazz, which can be found by using the search box at the top of this page or by making a selection of your choice from the list at the bottom of this page, where you will also find links to other blogs and websites.

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Same As You: Polar Bear

Polar Bear Same As You

The latest Polar Bear album has been out for about a month now and it was to have been my contemporary album of the month for April but other demands on my time conspired against reviewing it until now. It’s even more accessible than last year’s In Each And Every One and I have enjoyed listening to it, both at home and on the bus and tube to work, where it has enlivened my trip through London Bridge.

Life, Love and Light Is an invocation which gets things underway. It wouldn’t be out of place on a Pharoah Sanders Impulse set and it is a meditation designed to set up a train of thought and take you somewhere else.

We Feel The Echoes moves things along. I like it but the backing beats feel somehow independent from the the gentle meditative saxophone improvisations. The track has a sense of calm, despite the pacy percussion. It is restorative music offering a chance to slow down your heart rate and let your mind go where it will.

The First Steps has a driving beat underlying it as a horn player contributes a simple phrase.

Of Hi Lands would not be out of place on an ECM album, which probably isn’t surprising as Seb Rochford recently worked on Andy Sheppards ECM debut Surrounded By Sea. The introduction is followed by a sax led, beat driven track which is how I would imagine may be like waking up while on some sort of bespoke safari to a place where unfamiliar sounds surround.

Don’t Let The Feeling Go includes vocals from Hannah Darling and Gar Robertson, while while Shabaka Hutchings makes an appearance on tenor saxophone. The track has a great and relentless bass line which is reminiscent of dub reggae and reminded a second set of ears of a visit to Morocco. You can take a listen courtesy of YouTube:-

To play touch or click on the arrow

Unrelenting, Unconditional is a long meditative track and is definitely in ECM meets Augustus Pablo territory. Once more there is an Eastern feel here, or maybe it is the influence of the high Californian desert where Seb Rochford mixed this album. There’s an enjoyable piece of solo percussion before we have a reprise of the Don’t Let The Feeling Go vocals to close.

So Polar Bear have produced another set which oozes atmosphere. Indeed, when it gets heard by the people who seek out and source engaging yet somehow brooding background music for TV there is likely to be a regular stream of royalty payments.

I hope to catch Polar Bear live in the not too distant future and if I do I’ll tell you about it here at downwithit.info

The band etc: Mark Lockheart (tenor saxophone); Pete Wareham (tenor saxophone); Tom Herbert (bass); Leafcutter John (electronics); Sebastian Rochford (drums). Written and Produced by Sebastian Rochford. Recorded by Sonny at Assault and Battery Studios, London. Artwork: Sanchita Islam. Released on The Laef Label. April 2015. Website: www.polarbearmusic.com

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Pocket Compass: Trish Clowes

Trish Clowes Pocket Compass cover

Just when I was wondering which CD to select as my March contemporary review, I received a copy of this offering from this young British saxophonist. It fits the bill perfectly- although it has been out since November 2014, so I’m not writing about the newest of new releases for you here today.

The set features three tracks recorded with the BBC Concert Orchestra and a further five from a quintet session. Since the quintet tracks were recorded exactly a year ago and this (4th March 2015) is the first birthday for some of them, I have no excuse other than to listen and enjoy immediately.

This is Trish Clowes third album and it is a work which exudes confidence and maturity, with all of the tracks being self-written and arranged. It is adventurous without losing sight of being melodious so let’s have a run through the tracks.

Radiation is the first of the three collaborations with the Concert Orchestra. Starting out with a rich and plaintiff saxophone phrase over a lush orchestral arrangement the tempo first speeds and then alternates featuring great dialogue between guitar, piano, sax and orchestra.

Question Mark is a tone poem that has a decidedly modern feel to it.

Porcupine is jangly and angular without being extreme, culminating in an interesting extended tenor solo from Clowes, which leads into a hard bop accompaniment from the rhythm section

Symphony In Yellow was inspired by an Oscar Wilde poem. The piano playing from Gwilym Simcock is particularly deft and sensitive and Chris Montague paves the way for a short lyrical interlude from Trish Clowes leading to a finale

The BBC Concert Orchestra is back for Balloon, which features the oboe of Lauren Weavers and more fine electric guitar from Montague.

Pfeiffer and the Whales was inspired by a trip that Clowes made to Monterey and Big Sur in California. It is enormously relaxing- the very sort of piece to accompany a short morning meditation for those that are into that, apparently very rewarding, sort of thing. Great stuff.

Wayne’s Waltz is dedicated to Wayne Shorter, following a meeting between the saxophone giant and Clowes. The soprano sax and piano enjoy an exchange before the voice of Calum Gourlay’s bass is heard. This track is currently available on YouTube and you can take a look here:-

To listen click or touch the arrow.

Chorale reunites Clowes with the orchestra. She explains in her brief but informative sleeve notes that she encouraged them to improvise over two chords on this piece, which strikes me as capturing a certain sophisticated London Jazz sound. It is very enjoyable.

The recorded sound is excellent and the production by Curtis Schwartz and Neil Varley (orchestral tracks) captures the instrumentation to fine effect. Two of photographs by Kira Doherty were taken on an atmospheric reach of the Thames in a bit of South-East London that I know really well, but which is getting built up really quickly. An unexpected bonus from this review is the encouragement for me to don my running shoes and get out there again very soon.

Thanks to my industry contact Christine for the review copy of this complex yet accessible set and for introducing me to this great young British talent. She informed me that she had enjoyed a recent performance by ‘…this charming saxophonist’ in London last week. If Chris enjoyed the show that’s a good enough recommendation for me!

The band etc: Trish Clowes (tenor & soprano saxophone); Gwilym Simcock (piano); Chris Montague (electric guitar); Calum Gourlay (double bass); James Maddren (drums). Small band tracks recorded at Curtis Schwartz Studios, W. Sussex on 3 & 4 March 2014. Radiation, Balloon and Chorale recorded at Air Studios, London on 22 January 2014. Produced by Curtis Schwartz and Neil Varley (orchestral tracks). Mixing and mastering by Curtis Schwartz. Photography: Kira Doherty. Issued on Basho Records, SRCD 45-2. November 2014.

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downwithit.info Contemporary Set of The Year 2014

Occasionally, opinionated people come out with ill-formed assertions. They say: ‘Jazz is dead’, or ‘There’s nothing new to hear’. The downwithit.info party line on this is that they are not trying hard enough. They might be too scared or blinkered but one way or another they need to do a bit of work and, at the very least test their opinion against the market. That’s what I did this year, after listening to an excellent recent set from 2012 by RipRap, and I’m delighted to present our first album of the year, from a truncated crop of eight new sets.

These are the new recordings I wrote about. Each of them was issued in 2014 for the first time and all were recorded, either this year or in 2013. You can visit my review by clicking on the red titles.

Robin McKelle- Heart Of Memphis. March 2014. The only vocal set in this list- but what a wonderful soul voice she has. She has been concentrating on the French market in 2014 and I hope we will get to see her in London again sometime soon.

Polar Bear- In Each And Every One. May 2014. Electronica infused jazz. A brave set, justifiably on the Mercury Awards list.

Marc Ribot Trio Live At Village Vanguard. June 2014. This trio led by guitar virtuoso Ribot go intense and free on a set featuring Coltrane and Albert Ayler tunes, but with a couple of ballads as respite.

Dylan Howe- Subterranean, New Designs On Bowie’s Berlin. July 2014. A labour of love brought to us via Kickstarter crowdfunding. Bowie’s instrumentals sound wonderful in this context. An unrushed, wonderfully executed set featuring some excellent musicianship and arrangements.

Blacktop- #One. August 2014. Disappointing Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas project featuring Steve Williamson on sax. Hopefully there’s better to come from this source next year.

Pharaoh Sanders- Spiral Mercury. October 2014 (1). More of an ensemble piece than an album dominated by Pharoah but it brought a taste of a hot night in Lisbon and is worth seeking out if you like this great saxophonist.

GoGo Penguin- V2.0 October 2014 (2). A light piano led set which was also on the Mercury shortlist but was slighter and less adventurous than Polar Bear.

Neil Cowley Trio- Touch And Flee. November 2014. Enjoyable piano trio- a good listen from a band to watch, with even better things expected.

And the first downwithit.info Contemporary Set Of The Year 2014 is…

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…Dylan Howe- Subterranean.

If I could only grab two others from a burning room they would be-
Marc Ribot Trio Live At Village Vanguard
And
Polar Bear- In Each And Every One

I’m delighted with this crop of releases from artists, many of whom were new to me at the start of 2014.

Before Christmas 2014, I will be looking back over the older sets that I’ve brought to you this year in an on the shoulders of giants / dead Jazzer’s shoes posting. I’ll also be reflecting on the handful of gigs that I’ve attended- not such a bad list, come to think of it! In the meantime, why not use the comments section to tell us about your new album of the year, especially if it is one of the many that I’ve overlooked.

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V2.0: GoGo Penguin

GoGo Peguin V2.0 cover
New jazz from bands named after denizens of the frozen zones are well represented at this year’s Mercury Awards. We took a look at Polar Bear’s In Each And Every One here. Now it is time to consider GoGo Penguins‘s V2.0. Although the CD has been on and off my system for the last month its time to get a posting in here before the Mercury results are announced on 30 October, thus avoiding potential accusations of jumping onto the bandwagon.

Murmeration opens and sets a tone for the set. I’m no piano player but a deceptively simple sounding tune takes on a degree of gravitas. The overall feel is solemn, yet uplifting also and I’m sure, like many of the tracks, this will find a place in the collections of film-makers who are in need of an atmospheric musical soundtrack for their work.

Garden Dog Barbecue is more uptempo with drum and bass hitting a faster rhythm.

Kamaloka delivers a lighter tune that shimmers and sparkles over a relentless pulse phrase on the drums. Fort is another light airy tune before One Pegrcent offers an air of mystery and could conjure an image of a perilous and relentless path ahead.

Home starts with a tabla accompaniment and introduces more delightful piano. The Letter is a mood piece starting with solo piano before the band come in to create an overall feel that could sit well alongside Dylan Howe’s take on Bowie’s Berlin instrumentals (here).

To Drown In You begins with an electronic pitch and some busy, scurrying drums, before the track grows to offer up an evocative soundtrack to wherever a flight of the imagination may take you. Shock And Awe starts ponderously as the drums seem to mimic the ticking of a clock, as it turns out the title does not really represent the content as there are no unpleasant surprises or jaw dropping moments on this particular track.

Hopopono closes V2.0 and thanks to the wonder of YouTube you can take a look and have a listen from this very page.

To watch and listen touch or click on the arrow

The video shows exactly what pianist Chris Illingworth is doing and whilst it looks relatively simple, the repetition builds into na very pleasant, soothing and mellifluous piece that is a great representation of GoGo Penguin’s work on this album.

GoGo Penguin are Manchester based and a couple of them look like lads that you could easily bump into at the football. Whilst V2.0 stands no chance of making onto my desert island shortlist of albums, it is a fine enjoyable effort that is not too difficult to listen to and can act as superior background music. It’s not Keith Jarrett at his best and in full flow and others have referenced the Esbjörn Svensson Trio (an outfit I’m not familiar with yet), but I delighted to have heard this set and added it to my collection. I’m glad that they are under consideration for the 2014 Mercury Award.

The band etc: Chris Illingworth (piano); Nick Blacka (bass); Rob Turner (drums). Released 2014. Recorded: Giant Wafer, March and April 2013 and 80 Hertz August 2013. Exec Producer: Matthew Halsall. Produced: Joseph Reiser & Brendan Williams. Artwork and Design: David Halsall. Issued as Gondwana Records GONDCD 009.

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Dylan Howe live at King’s Place. 29 September 2014

Regular visitors may recall that I’ve been taking a look at a new recording each month. In late July my attention turned to Dylan Howe’s interesting reinvestigations of David Bowie’s late 1970’s Berlin instrumental tracks. You can read about Subterranean: New Designs On Bowies Berlin here. To summarise, I enjoyed the album massively.

I was delighted to discover that Howe intended to play this set live in its entirety on a UK tour. Even better, Andy Sheppard would be be taking care of saxophone duties.

The London gig was in King’s Cross at the newish King’s Place concert halls. A stylish setting amidst London’s latest district of architectural rejuvination and, somehow an apt place to hear Howe’s respectful jazz take on David Bowie and Eno’s compositions.

The band seemed very comfortable together and presented us with a faithful live reproduction of the recorded set. This was ideal and probably what most audiences would hope to hear at this stage, as there will be time enough for these arrangements to offer soloing space, if that is what Dylan Howe would eventually like to do with them. What we’ve currently got is a solid and, at times, very beautiful rendition of the recording and something that Howe deserves to be very proud of. However, there is still ample space for the live versions to develop to fully realise and release Howe’s aspiration of ‘John Coltrane meets David Bowie, recorded in outer space’.

Old School synthesiser passages are at the heart of many of these pieces and they were deftly delivered by Steve Lodder. Dave Whitford’s double bass added its deep natural-sounding gravitas, while Ross Stanley’s piano playing was as polished as the resident Steinway grand demanded. Dylan Howe’s drumming was subtle and fascinating to watch and hear. Andy Sheppard’s soprano on the the third number (All Saints, unless I’m mistaken) was my personal highlight amidst a very strong performance.

Bowie has, himself, given Dylan Howe’s album the thumbs up and it’s great to see the set and the tour gathering very positive reviews. As somebody who initially struggled with the instrumental side of Low, I never thought I would be still listening to and enjoying these pieces over 25 years later.

Congratulations to all involved with this interesting and imaginative musical resetting of these jewels. This performance deserves and will receive a rating of 9/10 on the downwithit.info live music index. As for me, to steal from and alter a Bowie title (cos, after all, Bowie is a self-declared magpie) I’ll continue to Watch This Man. Thanks Dylan.

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One Year Old: downwithit.info

This website is now one year old.

The first posting on downwithit.info was published on 19 September 2014.

In the last year the site has been visited 4097 times by visitors from 67 countries. 1867 visits have been from UK web addresses, followed by 1070 hits from US visitors. 99 visits have been made from Brazil, while there has only been 1 visit from each of New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan and nobody has looked in from Jamaica or Iceland yet!

39 albums have been reviewed and these have included 6 newly released sets by artists who are currently active.

15 live gigs have been reported on (with a couple of Pharoah Sanders US gigs that I couldn’t get to also being mentioned).

The most rewarding strands involved finding out more about Freddie Roach and starting to write about current live and recorded music. I’ve particularly enjoyed gigs at East Side Jazz Club, where I’ve seen some superb musicianship from world-class performers and it has been great that Steve Williamson has made a very welcome re-appearance on live stages.

Bringing things right up to date, last week the first meeting of Macc Record Club took place and you can read about this excellent fresh initiative here.

Over the next year I intend to continue as before and I hope you all continue to visit.

Comments are very welcome and the one surprise is that there have been very few- so dont’t be shy. I’m sure some of what I write about provokes a reaction- so please feel free to react.

Onward to the autumn and winter of 2014.

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#One: Black Top

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As part of my mission to write about some new ‘jazz’ here at downwithit.info I was delighted to obtain this new live recording from Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas who feature Steve Williamson as a guest on tenor and soprano saxophones.

#One is the first CD release from a series of live performances featuring a changing cast of collaborators.

The CD sleeve says: ‘Black Top. Utilising music and sounds influenced by the African diaspora providing a platform where experimental acoustic dexterity meets spontaneous technological soundscapes.’ Well worth a listen then!

It’s not easy listening though. Orphy’s marimbas run throughout and Pat Thomas is ever present with piano keyboards and beats. There are no immediate and obvious reference points after a couple of plays, other than a hint of Eric Dolphy’ Out To Lunch that I latched onto

I could spend the next three weeks listening to and then listening again in an effort to try to explain the three tracks here- but I won’t. I know this is a CD that I’ll return to, as it’s interesting and complex and when I do, I’ll add some more here. It’s a bit of a cop out but I don’t think Black Top deserve to be rushed at because it is to be hoped that this project will endure and go from this strength to future glory.

The set consists of three tracks:- There Goes The Neighbourhood; Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and Archaic Nubian Step Dub.

You can get a flavour from the YouTube film of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, which captures the musicians performing this piece at their live recording at London’s Cockpit Theatre.

To watch, click or touch the arrow.

Archaic Nubian Step Dub closes the CD. Williamson stretches out and is at his most inventive on the shortest track.

My personal jury is still out on Black Top. That said, I am looking forward to seeing them live and hearing what they choose to release next.

On a revisit in late-August 2014, listening through headphones as background to some work, the final track was compelling, grabbed my attention and I went back to play it again.

You can visit Black Top’s website here

The band etc:- Orphy Robinson (marimba); Pat Thomas (piano, keys, computer beats); Special Guest: Steve Williamson (tenor & soprano sax). Live recording engineer: Steve Lowe. Recorded 31 January 2012.  Jazz In The Round, The Cockpit Theatre, London.  Sleeve: Ian Swifty Swift.  Label: Babel Label. Issued 2014.

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Polar Bear: In Each and Every One

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I’ve made a commitment to look at least one relatively new recording each month. So here we go with the third set by musicians that you may be able to see at a venue near you, should you choose to accept the challenge!

The traditionalists can roll their eyes in the direction of the moon and be dismissive- but here at downwithit we will attempt to be adventurous. As I will be pushing well beyond hard bop and even 60’s free jazz, there will be hits and misses, hopefully a few rubies inspite of a little dust.

This month’s choice is In Each and Every One, the fifth and most recently released album by London based, Polar Bear. I’ve been playing it for about a month, slowly trying to get a sense of things.

At the point of writing this, I’ve been pondering whether Polar Bear’s music fits here. Is it jazz? Well, yes, but it relies heavily on electronic sounds. What would Horace Silver think? What would Coltrane’s opinion be? Would Miles Davis find something new and refreshing in it? The question was answered for me, in my own mind, when I put on Charles Mingus’s Black Saint and the Sinner Lady after my last play through of In Each and Every One. Polar Bear are in search of something new and it is important to respect them for that.

The set starts with the aptly titled Open See, an introspective scene setter that I could imagine as the soundtrack for a modern dance piece at Sadlers Wells. Electronics maestro Leafcutter John is working hard on this one and, given his electronic expertise, an imagined three-way conversation between himself, Brian Eno and Miles Davis would have been an interesting one. It is quite a delicate piece that acts as a signpost which indicates that the rest of the album will defy neat categorisations.

Be Free is a percussion centred tune with saxophone that offers a nod in the direction of some of Ornette Coleman’s work. This is a foot-tapper, with a sense of a battle to restrain discord, that is just about won.

Chotpot strikes me as being a little too flippant but eventually it wins me over. It’s a long time since I’ve listened to Penguin Café Orchestra but if on a blind listening I were told that this was one of their tunes I would be easy to convince. There’s a great bassline hidden away in this performance, by the way.

All K’s and Q’s Now gets off to a frenetic start incorporating some engaging horn playing before it gives way to electronica that is reminiscent of Tangerine Dream (not that I’ve spent too much time listening to them). The track concludes with a brief and disconcerting passage that seems to sound a little like an electronic take on human distress. Not everything in Polar Bear’s garden is rosy.

I couldn’t find any material from the album on YouTube (although there’s some great stuff via the website link below), so I have lifted some live footage courtesy of Band On The Wall:-

To watch click or touch the arrow.

WW is an interesting noise, nothing more to these ears that are currently struggling with the beautiful but discordant excesses found on some Albert Ayler recordings. Lost In Death Part 2 wins me back with its possible resemblance to something that could sit alongside Bartok’s folk tunes. Once again, Leafcutter John plays his part and there is some great plaintive saxophone as it ends.

Maliana is a complex piece with several phases and what I perceive as a slight African feel, which is probably conveyed to me by the drums. There is a phase that almost has a Glam Rock edge to it- but don’t mention the Glitter Band! Lost In Death Part 1 Doesn’t have a great deal to commend it apart from some interesting bass but Life and Life unveils a splendid brooding theme evocative of storm clouds gathering and of Jan Gabarek.

Two Storms is a further soundscape: a series of scales and a melodic start giving way to what I imagine the death of a whale by strangulation and its rebirth could conceivably sound like before Sometimes closes this adventurous and pleasing recording with more brooding.

I’ll definitely try to see Polar Bear live this year if I get the chance and I’m certainly delighted to be able to write about the challenges that they present here. However, at this stage, I find their music a bit of a stretch from my comfort zone and for the time being I’ll content myself with what may prove to be a ruby but won’t be immediately breaking my back or pocket to obtain their back catalogue.

Incidentally, the set is dedicated: RIP Stan Tracey. A Wonderful Man

The band etc: Mark Lockheart (tenor saxophone); Pete Wareham (tenor saxophone); Tom Herbert (double bass); Leafcutter John (electronics); Sebastian Rochford (drums). Sonny (Sonny Channel). Produced by Sebastian Rochford. Recorded by Sonny at Livingston Studios. Artwork: Criag Keenan. Released on The Laef Label. Bay 90 1st April 2014. Website: www.polarbearmusic.com

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Snow Blue Night: RipRap Quartet

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It’s spring, the bulbs and daffodils are with us, lambs are gamboling and it is time to tell you about some new music that you may enjoy. At the end of January, I wrote about Groove Merchant by The Tommy Chase Quartet here. Kevin Flanagan played sax on that album and when I emailed to let him know about my piece, I decided that I would try to write about his current musical endeavours. It’s great to be able to write about a musician, so obviously adept in playing the hard bop changes, who has moved into different, more contemporary territory and also to tell you about a new recording that has recently been released. Riprap have played together for over 8 years and the four members have played alongside many of the great and the good of British jazz, as well as with stellar rock and soul stars.

I’ve had Snow Blue Night for just over a week and I’ve probably played it through about a dozen times. Initially, I struggled to find the words and means to write about it. First impressions included observations that the music was melodic, complex, engaging and that Riprap have the great virtue of knowing how to listen to each other as well as being able to play their individual instruments with great skill.

There is none of the head, solo, solo, solo, reprise of head predictability found in the average hard bop set. What I did hear was a very listenable set of 10 tracks. Starting with an energetic and melodic Snow Blue Night, Kevin Flanagan introduces the theme on soprano saxophone before giving way to the piano of Dave Gordon who enters a dialogue with Russ Morgan on restrained and complimentary percussion, followed by a soaring soprano sax led section. I’m aware that Kevin Flanagan worked with Bristol trip-hop band, Portishead, and the next track up, Old Year, has Andrew Brown playing a bass line that reminds me very much of Massive Attack’s Blue Lines- but maybe that’s just these old ears of mine. The Beck is a delightful piece of music that demands attention despite being played with great subtlety and restraint. As noted above, Riprap really know how to listen to each other.

Cuba Cafe, as the name suggests has something of the Caribbean about it- a bit of mambo cha cha perhaps is this poor attempt to describe the feel. Song is a complex piece played in distinct movements, with a second section which offers plenty of space for the interplay between the bass, percussion and piano. English Isobars has a sense of sophistication that the piano and soprano saxophone deliver before Andrew Brown produces a short bass solo and more exquisite piano. Newk is a tribute to Sonny Rollins. I’m not sure if it echoes any of The Colossus’s compositions in particular but it lends itself to some playful interplay between the four musicians. Saying The Names starts with a repeated looped phrase (played on the bass, I think) which runs like a pulse through a first section before Dave Gordon plays some amazing piano. A third section re-introduces Kevin Flanagan with another repeated phrase on bass to take us out. Our Lady of Guadeloupe starts with a bass led phase, which creates a sense of tension and mystery. Finally, Helicon melds another mixture of light, shade and great sensitivity.

The album sounded great over a Naim/ Spendor system. It has been a pleasure to discover a very fine contemporary set which downwithit can recommend to you without any reservation or hesitation. The great thing is that Riprap are a working quartet with at least four gigs coming up between now and September 2014 (Cambridge, Watford, Ipswich area). The album can be bought as a CD for £10 including postage and packaging direct from Kevin Flanagan’s website, which you can link to from here. You can also buy downloads from there. If you only buy one new British jazz album in the coming months, treat yourself to this one. There’s also lots more information about the band and forthcoming gigs there too.

The band:- Riprap are: Kevin Flanagan (reeds); Dave Gordon (piano); Russ Morgan (percussion); Andrew Brown (bass). January 2012. Recorded at Anglia Ruskin Recital Room, Cambridge. Produced by Kevin Flanagan, Bill Campbell and John Ward; Recording Engineer: Bill Campbell, assisted by Jamie Currie and David Kuratsu. Cover photo: Jane Perryman; Art & Design: Crosstown Traffic. Riprap (own label).

I’ve said my bit and now you can hear from Kevin Flanagan, himself, courtesy of YouTube. Naturally, he tells us about the music of Riprap in a far better way than a reviewer could hope to and there are several extracts from Snow Blue Night to be heard there too:-

To watch, click or press the button.

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