Leon Maria Plecity ‘Otherworld’ CD (JazzHausMusik) 5/5

I suspect that, like me, many readers will not know Plecity or his music, so here’s a little background… Plecity is a guitarist and composer born in Düsseldorf in 1995. He started on piano, taking lessons from the age of six, switching to guitar at the age of 14. He has recorded previously on albums by others, but this is the first album to be released under his own name.

Here is a quintet with tenor saxophone, piano, bass and drums supporting the guitarist and, like Plecity, all of his band-mates are little known on the wider jazz scene. The quintet has been performing together since 2017. The eight compositions making up the album are all written and arranged by the leader. They are all carefully crafted with much care and attention to detail. Each piece allows ample space for self-expression from the band members. The music can sometimes be intense and at other times fragile and delicate. I’m reminded of the best of the music produced by the ECM label and of the best of the Scandinavian groups that seem to be all-pervasive currently. The recorded sound is exemplary.

The album opens with ‘The end of a Voyage’ and begins in a contemplative form with the tenor saxophone centre stage before the guitarist enters. Thereafter a gentle insistent beat ushers in the complex theme statement with tenor and guitar in unison before a commanding bass feature, followed by fine piano as the temperature slowly rises. Delicately nimble saxophone figures take over gradually increasing in complexity and intensity.

‘Waves of Light’ is a similarly complex theme, at once delicate and yet joyful and the quintet acquit themselves well throughout the ebb and flow of the music.

‘Inner Riot’ introduces electronic keyboard and another of the leader’s collection of guitars. Here he sounds at times like a combination of a more powerful Pat Metheny combined with early John Abercrombie with a little Bill Frisell thrown in for good measure and the intensity in his playing is palpable. There is a fine keyboard solo and the drummer has a chance to show his abilities.

‘Halcyon Bird’ exhibits a kind of relaxed intensity and commences with some wonderfully ruminative piano. The guitarist here reminding me of Pat Martino in his approach to the instrument.

Unusually, ‘Otherworld’ is ushered in by the drummer before first tenor and then guitar take up the lovely introspective melody. The feel changes to a more aggressive intensity during the saxophonist’s solo before returning to the beguiling melody.

‘Ondine’ is introduced by the bassist before the piano builds musical wisps of smoke in the air and then the theme is sketched out by the guitarist, at times hinting at a hitherto unnoticed blues element in his playing.

‘Fear of Rejection’ is altogether more impassioned with the guitarist taking on the persona of guitar maestro Terje Rypdal in rock mode at the outset, but this soon gives way to more melodic gracefulness from the pianist before high-intensity guitar returns.

The set concludes with ‘Dawn’ where again saxophone and guitar (this time acoustic) take on the beautiful tune. This, for me, is the outstanding piece on the album. It threatens to break into a Jobim- style bossa-nova from time to time and the thoughtful keyboard solo is exquisite.

This is an album full of variety which will hold the listener’s attention throughout. The musicianship is of the highest order as is the recording quality and although you may not know Plecity just yet, make a note of the name because he is likely to soon be joining the ranks of the best of the current crop of jazz guitarists.

https://jazzhausmusik.de

Alan Musson

Da Lata ‘Birds’ LP/CD (Da Lata Music/Kartel) 4/5

‘Birds’ is the fourth album from London’s Afro-Brazilian soul duo, Da Lata, making this their first record release in five years. With past releases on Palm Pictures and Agogo Records, Da Lata now find themselves aligned with London’s Kartel Music Group, home to a variety of eclectic and diverse acts including saxophonist Colin Stetson, US rapper Chali 2na and trip-hop icons, Morcheeba.

Comprised of musician Chris Franck and DJ Patrick Forge – both former members of the 90s Brazilian musical outfit Batu – Da Lata have developed a strong reputation and catalogue stemming back to their 2000 debut, ‘Songs From The Tin’, and through their subsequent releases ‘Serious’ and ‘Fabiola’. Da Lata’s music has always been something of a sum of all its parts – while absolutely a celebration of African and Brazilian musical styles and genres, its origins from the late-90s London scene have always instilled a more versatile and all-encompassing dynamic as it teetered along the trip-hop, electronica and broken beat genres happily creating music that boasted elements of each.

Spearheaded by the singles ‘Memory Man’ (featuring Courtney Dennie) and ‘Oba Lata’, ‘Birds’ presents ten tracks of such a perfectly-balanced amalgamation of everything listeners have come to expect and love from Da Lata’s music. While songs like the album opener ‘Mentality’ (featuring Diabel Cissokho) and second single ‘Oba Lata’ showcase Franck and Forge’s afrobeat-esque styles, songs like ‘To B’ (featuring Adriana Vasques) and ‘Thunder of Silence’, which boasts the vocal talents of the incredible Bembé Segué, delve deeper into the band’s signature Latin inspirations. The vastly underrated vocalist Vanessa Freeman, herself famed for her appearances with artists as varied as The Baker Brothers, Kyoto Jazz Massive and Reel People, appears on perhaps the album highlight ‘Sway’, and the nostalgic folky soul of the closing title track provides Luiz Gabriel Lopes a perfectly lush backdrop to close the album. Some of the collaborators assembled on ‘Birds’ serve as long-standing contributors with some having appeared as far back as ‘Songs From The Tin’ and some even further back to the Batu days, like percussionist Carl Smith and drummer Tristan Banks.

‘Birds’ marks an interesting evolution for Da Lata’s music as we approach twenty years since the band’s debut record. While still celebrating all of the musical influences, styles and genres that they have always heralded for inspiration, the results are perhaps more accessible than they’ve ever been resulting in a welcome return after a five-year absence.

Live date:
Da Lata plus DJ Patrick Forge at The Hideway, London – 15th November – tickets HERE

Imran Mirza

Read also:
Da Lata ‘Fabiola’ LP/CD (Agogo) 3/5

Adam Rudolph’s Go Organic Orchestra with Brooklyn Raga Massive ‘Ragmala: A Garland of Ragas’ 3LP/2CD (Meta) 5/5

I don’t feel equipped to review this album, neither emotionally or technically. It overheats my tiny brain and asks me “spiritual” questions I haven’t begun to feel answers for. I don’t fear it though, in fact, I am deeply in love with it, but I am a touch overwhelmed by it. Its expansive otherness, its core rasa, remind of the feeling I get when listening to my heroes; Cherry, Sanders, Sun Ra, Coltrane. It’s that close to being *too* big.

Where to start then? Facts. Facts might help.

“Ragmala” is created by 40 odd musicians from Adam Rudolph’s Go: Organic Orchestra (termed the “future orchestra” by Bennie Maupin) and Brooklyn Raga Massive (an artist community rooted in both traditional Indian and South Asian classical music, as well as cross-cultural Raga inspired music, hailed as the “leaders of a raga renaissance” by the New Yorker).

Go: Organic Orchestra are a two-decade old, world concept/community of ever-changing musicians from everywhere: Mongolia, Nepal, Senegal, Ghana, Japan, Korea, Cuba, Iran, Mexico, Haiti, Argentina, Brazil, Jamaica; all expressing themselves within Rudolph’s yogic framework, following no set instrumentation (8 bass players one night, none the next) but always leading to heightened exploration and discovery.

Rudolph’s intent to push boundaries and reach for the new has urged him to design matrices and cosmograms to map out scales and intervallic patterns for the musicians, in place of the Western notational scores. His matrices derive from Schoenberg’s “magic boxes” but they don’t conform to a formula, more flexible like a raga’s scale/melody middle ground. He also applies a unique rhythm concept he calls Ostinatos of Circularity, “It’s like the cycle references you would experience in Indian music,” he says, “where things orbit around, and then come together, like a circle.” It combines the rhythms you would find in North Indian (he studied tabla for decades) and Middle Eastern music.

Those 3 paragraphs of facts do indeed help, I think. They give a context for the globe-traversing blend of cross-continental sounds, underlain by the raga. They raise expectations for the array of instruments used; sitar, percussion (bata, caxixi, wood box surdo, mineiro, okonkolo, tabla and more), violins, didgeridoo, reeds, midrigan, the chromatic tambin, brass, guitar, bass, harp. They brace you for the deep, fearless, 20-track long listening experience that awaits. This ain’t no background wash to do the pots to or a singalong for that long family drive to visit the folks. It’s a serious piece of work. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t groove, it just means it needs to be listened to; it needs your focus.

“Mousa Azure” shows us the way to enlightenment with simple, surging circular patterns, Alice Coltrane-ish washes and stabs and Hassan Hakmoun’s rejoicing, soaring Gnawa voice. “Rotations” has an intense, hip, filmic, symphonic jazz groove that would have benefited any 60s thriller, so long as they could work in a loosely Eastern connection. “Ecliptic” mesmerically plods, swells and deflates while, contrastingly, “Savannahs” rides hard and long, relentless and urgent, extending, propelling; needing to arrive at or escape somewhere.

“Shantha” is pure and brief, an empathic violin, guitar duo. “Wandering Star” speaks of freedom and chaos with its percussive bed and sitar wash attacked by unexpected bursts of heavy strings and stinging guitar. “Ascent to Now” is slick as, with a deep, angular, eyes-closed-head-nodding Strata-East groove and limpid flute skimming and skating.

“Lamentations” is achingly remote guitar, violin and bass, “Dialectic” is percussive peace, “Thirteen Moons” is bowed drama and “Reflective” is, well, reflective. “Glare of the Tiger” initially surprises with its distorted guitar histrionics and metronomic beat and power before expanding into a tense strings/flute/guitar elegant diffusion. “We Grieve” moans and weeps its grief in pockets of lament; didgeridoo, horns, strings all contributing their personal story of loss to the wake’s congregation.

“Turiya” is an uplifting, easy swinging, spiritual jazz/psych saunter. “Syntactic Journey” is the lightly-cacophonous meeting place of symphonic jazz and contemporary classical while “Sunset Lake” is a gloriously trippy, trancy ascendancy to a higher state of awareness. “Africa 21” brings the danceable funk, cleansed and stretched to the devotional by swirling horns, reeds and voices reaching ever, ever higher. “Gone to Earth” is an unlikely brusque, visceral, guttural goodbye.

As I said at the top, this album is very big, very important, hard for me to fully assimilate. It’s beautiful, expansive and majestic with a palpable deep connectedness but a virtuosic freedom too. It manages to forge a focused synergistic relationship between jazz, Indian Classical, West African etc. music while still expressing individual voices and creating a universal, not generic, whole. It is an authoritative step forward in the evolution of a truly global, celestial, cosmic “world” music.

“This album feels like the culmination of everything I’ve been reaching for in my creative pursuits,” says Rudolph “With this music I can hear the humanity of all these different musicians shine through, and their voices bring forth something that’s never existed before.” No wonder it feels so close to being *too* big.

Ian Ward

Louis Sclavis ‘Characters On A Wall’ LP/CD (ECM) 4/5

“Characters on a wall” marks the second time that French clarinettist Louis Sclavis has devoted an album to music inspired by the art of Ernest Pignon-Ernest. “Napoli’s Walls”, recorded in 2002, was the first, and this new release, Sclavis’ 13th as a leader for ECM, is inspired by the artist’s work in all its periods. Sclavis: “Ernest’s work speaks to me very directly. When I look at his images, I don’t have to search for long – ideas come to me very quickly. But there’s no rule, no method. Each work generates its own form and compositional processes.”

Surprisingly, this is the first time the clarinettist has explored the classic jazz quartet format of reeds, piano, bass and drums on an ECM session. And he does it in a characteristically individual style. With Benjamin Moussay on piano, Sarah Murcia on bass, and Christophe Lavergne on drums, the music being performed benefits from Sclavis’ experience with writing for ensembles, with a very clearly defined atmosphere created in the process, enabling this band to feel like a real jazz group – in its make-up, subtleties and intuitive interplay between the musicians.

There are some stunning compositions on this album, brought to life by all of the musicians involved. Sclavis is on top form, his sensitive and emotive playing always melodic and often melancholic, as on the beautiful and moving “Extases”, a wonderful tune that sends shivers down my spine. The quartet are in full jazz-ahead mode for the exhilarating “Prison”, with its powerful, striking bass lines, riffs and solos. One of the skills of any small ensemble musician is to know when to stay in the background and when to come forward, and these musicians are particularly adept at this throughout this recording. On “La dame de Martigues” pianist Benjamin Moussay shows a lyricism that is at once beautiful and engaging. In fact, this quartet, led by the indomitable clarinettist, produce an often spellbinding array of melody and musicianship across all 8 original pieces, with the closing track “Darwich dans la ville” being one of this writer’s favourites.

“Characters on a wall” is an evocative jazz album, produced by Manfred Eicher and benefiting from ECM’s high quality of sound recording. Available in CD and vinyl formats, there are comprehensive liner notes by Louis Sclavis and Stephane Olivier, along with a selection of photos of Ernest Pignon-Ernest’s artwork.

Live dates:
November 14 – Lux Valence France
November 15 – D’jazz Nevers festival Nevers France
November 24 – Flagey, studio 1 Brussels Belgium
January 15 – Theater, Hinterbühne Rüsselsheim Germany
February 03 – Elbphilharmonie, Kleiner Saal Hamburg Germany

Mike Gates

Read also:
Dominique Pifarély Quartet ‘Tracé Provisoire’ (ECM) 3/5
Louis Sclavis Quartet ‘Silk and Salt Melodies’ (ECM) 3/5

Alton Ellis ‘Greatest Hits: Mr Soul of Jamaica’ 2CD (Doctor Bird) 4/5

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When a release called ‘Greatest Hits: Mr Soul of Jamaica’ by Nehemiah Ellis OD (1 September 1938 – 10 October 2008) drops into the drive you do tend to go into cruise control just at the thought. The Godfather of Rocksteady, who started out as an R&B singer in 1960, became such a force in Reggae music. By the mid-’60s, Ska started to slow down to the much cooler sounds of Rocksteady and Alton led the way with hit after hit and most of those classic songs are on this release; ‘I’m Just a Guy’, ‘Girl I’ve Got a Date’ and of course ‘Rocksteady’. All of these songs have longevity and some 60 years later selectors of the finest Reggae will still be dropping them in dances, house parties and on radio shows.

Alton Ellis is a Jamaican institution, a soulful integral part of Jamaican contemporary culture. It’s good to have all these songs in one collection, every one is a winner, each one a crisp tune that graces with that characteristic voice who sang on Studio One and Treasure Isle and worked with so many producers and labels. However, ’nuff said about the legend, the compilation itself lacks a lot as well. It must be hard being tasked with compiling an Alton Ellis ‘Greatest Hits’ but how could certain tracks be left out? ‘Mad Mad Mad’ for example, one of the most sampled Reggae songs of all time, morphed from the original to ‘Diseases’ by Michigan and Smiley then to ‘Zungguzungguguzungguzeng’ by Yellowman (along with a few thousand other versions) and beyond, sampled by a plethora of Hip Hop artists from KRS-One to Biggie and Tupac. Additionally, the ultimate in sublime ‘Play It Cool’, a tune that just melts from the first notes he sings, sadly left out but definitely in my record box every time I play out. Obviously this rant is reading beyond the release too much as the title ‘Mr Soul of Jamaica’ effectively limits his vast body of work to the mid-late 60s but I really wish the LP was a more comprehensive as Alton travelled far and wide, worked with so many people in so many countries, and just kept making music decade after decade. There are around 15 Alton Ellis Greatest Hits compilations, many of which feature a body of similar work. This one does have some previously unreleased/alternate takes which is good, such as the soul version of ‘Girl I’ve Got a Date’, which could pass for a rare groove if selected right. However, it would be nice and valuable for the historical record if there was a diachronic Alton Ellis compilation of songs and collaborations, from the 1960s until his passing in 2008.

Haji Mike

Sidiku Buari ‘Disco Soccer’ 2LP/CD (BBE Music) 4/5

If there was an award for sexiest reissue of the year, Sidiku Buari’s 1979 album, Disco Soccer, would surely be shortlisted. ‘Koko Si’, the first track gets us in the mood by ticking all the boxes marked disco. ‘Makin love, gettin down’ sings Buari over wah wah guitar, strings and an essential disco groove. The female vocalist, who does not seem to be credited on the record clearly deserves some for her ecstatic performance, she certainly gives Donna Summer on ‘I Feel Love’ a run for her money. It’s highly kitsch and highly camp in equal measure and all the more enjoyable for this.

Buari is a Ghanaian musician and former athlete who moved to the USA in 1966 on a York Institute music scholarship awarded thanks to his athletic achievements. One of York’s music teachers heard him singing team building chants in the Ga language to his basketball team and thought, all this guy needs is a rhythm section. Buari recorded over a dozen albums before a switch to Polydor Records in 1979 produced Disco Soccer. If like me you were puzzling over the title of the album you may like to know that Disco Soccer is a dance created by Buari involving a set of moves built around kicking an imagined football to the beat.

As well as the incredible backing singer, the album boasts contributions from some heavyweight musicians, Michael Brecker – sax, Randy Brecker – trumpet, Jon Faddis – trumpet, Barry Rogers – trombone, George Young – tenor sax, as well as a host of others on strings and percussion. On other, projects Buari has also collaborated with Bernard Purdie, Sugar Hill’s Steve Jerome and Salsoul bass player Gordon Edwards. On moving back to Ghana in 1985 he continued his recording career and became instrumental in setting up the Ghanaian Musicians Union.

There’s little slack in the album and the pace continues with ‘I’m Ready’. “Anything you want to I am, I am ready” is chanted by the vocalists as the phrase is thumped out on the bass and echoed by the strings with urgency and energy. The liquid synth squelches its way through the song in the company of some spacey keyboard texture. The motor is running smoothly now and driving everything in tune to the same destination.

The Afro heritage of the record is probably most evident on the track, ‘It’s What’s Happening’, which begins with the undulating tones of the talking drum combined with a slightly melancholic keyboard rhythm. This hiatus from the disco beat does not last and before long we are back on the dance floor. Gritty sounding wah wah guitar and strings once again recalling the soundtrack to the movie ‘Shaft’ but also making the album sound a few years earlier than it actually is. Vocals mainly chant the song’s title before a jazz-funk interlude for the electric piano.

‘Kinyi Ai Kawali’ (You’re Not Alone) blends English and Ga Vocals in soulful style with the added benefit of vibes with a Roy Ayers’ feel, adding another layer of intercontinental fusion to the album.

The record rounds off in a more reflective mood with ‘Games We Used To Play’, a reggae-influenced ode to ‘the motherland’ The gentle vocals reminisce about an earlier life and ask how “the games we used to play” might be revived in the USA.

This record definitely gets better the more I listen to it and reveals its Afrobeat subtleties, these are not so obvious on every track and on some pieces are layered deeper into the music. It’s clearly much more than a disco album and one worth seeking out.

James Read

Oku Onuora ‘I’ve Seen’ LP/CD (Fruits) 5/5

The revolutionary dub poet and visionary, Oku Onura, is timeless, so whenever he releases it’s always crucial. One of the founders of dub poetry started writing in 1971, while incarcerated for his revolutionary activities. In 1974 he became the first prisoner to perform ‘inside’ prison accompanied by Cedric Brooks and The Light of Saba band – What I would give to have even been a roadie at that historic event…

So whenever Oku speaks, we listen… As a ‘genre’, dub poetry gained more awareness through Linton Kwesi Johnson and Benjamin Zephaniah in Britain. Linton in particular also turned to Jamaica to link up with a small group of hardened poets who were stirring consciousness and going against the grain of conformity at a time of immense political conflict in 1970s Jamaica. Oku Onora, Michael Smith, Mutabaruka and Yasus Afari, along with LKJ and Benjamin Zephaniah are the founding fathers of what we call dub poetry. Oku is not the most prolific of artists but when he chants, he rocks the Babylonian establishment to its core.

‘I’ve Seen’ is his latest release produced by Fruits Records and Thomas ‘Dr. T’ Lautenbacher out of Switzerland. It must be said, the marriage between poet and the makers of music is great. They give each other ample space for lyrics to breathe and flow and for music to speak which is central to an LPs overall texture as a complete work. The album features full sounding powerful riddims, played by the musicians of The 18th Parallel, to which Dr. T has added a modern electronic touch. From the opening title track this is indeed a matter of conscious dub poetry reflecting on the metaphor of the moon and the hypocrisy of Babylonian mis-teachings. The ‘Dubword Warrior’ track also stands out for its definitive power of the genre, through lyrics like “dub we come to dub…speaking truths and rights…work we come to work…dub out…dub in consciousness…” The feel of the track is lyrically spontaneous, like a freestyle flow of consciousness. ‘Jamaica’ finds the dub poet reflecting in a welcoming way to the subject matter with a wry and defining poignancy “welcome to the land of hospitality, that can change in the blink of an eye, to austerity”. What a line! I also really like the closing piece, ‘Fish Head Story’, with its ambient Jamaican sounds and spoken word story where you can imagine so much in so little time. This release is a testament to the longevity and revolutionary insights of Oku Onura as a poet. Long may he keep chanting down Babylon. 5 Top Ranking Stars

One Love

Haji Mike

Avishai Cohen / Yonathan Avishai ‘Playing The Room’ LP/CD (ECM) 4/5

Trumpeter Avishai Cohen and pianist Yonathan Avishai have a shared history of 30 years of musical interaction. “Playing The Room” bears testimony to their long and fruitful musical friendship, going right back to when they began to explore jazz as teenagers in Tel Aviv. They have of course performed regularly together in various settings over the years, but this is their first recording together as a duo. Not surprisingly then, given their musical journeys and kindred spirit, the music performed on this session is intuitive and relaxed, with a clear sense of warmth and joy emanating from the music they perform.

“Playing The Room” begins with tunes composed by the trumpeter and pianist, “The Opening” and “Two Lines”, and concludes with a touching interpretation of Israeli composer Alexander Argov’s cradle song “Shir Eyes”. Along the way, the duo improvise freely, with a soulful sensitivity, on themes from the jazz tradition, from John Coltrane and Duke Ellington, to Abdullah Ibrahim and Ornette Colman. There’s even an enchanting version of Stevie Wonder’s classic “Sir Duke”. The shared ideas and unhurried nature of this music allow the listener to sit back and relax, taking in the atmosphere and ambience, whatever the style of the composition. “Since I’m playing Avishai’s music in his quartet which is a whole journey in itself and since I have my trio as a context for my ideas, neither of us felt that the duo recording should primarily be about us as writers”, says Jonathan Avishai. “We each brought along one tune and these were the first things recorded. After that, the sequence of pieces is fairly close to the order in which we played the music in Lugano and it has to do with energies that we really like, and composer’s we like, in jazz and other idioms.”

One of the things that makes this album so enjoyable is the sense of freedom and consummate ease with which both musicians perform. I would imagine that when musicians are so at ease with one another, with nothing to prove, they can simply enjoy the shared experience and allow their playing to speak for itself. This certainly appears to be the case here, with a natural love for the music they are performing coming across as genuine and sincere. There is, however, also a keen sense of playfulness that gives the proceedings a lovely lilt, with the duo obviously enjoying the intuitive, improvised interaction. The duo makes excellent use of the recording space, the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in Lugano, with its resonant and acoustic properties adding to the intimacy and focus of the recording. “Playing The Room” is a lovely album, with both musicians on top form.

Mike Gates

Michael Janisch ‘Worlds Collide’ 2LP/CD (Whirlwind Recordings) 4/5

Collisions do indeed abound on this record or perhaps more accurately things collide, elide and slide. Rock feel sits alongside jazz, melody crashes into improv, tight arrangements give way to jagged passages.

The notes talk of the title representing a set of individual and different tunes developed over time from disparate influences and Michael Janisch is quoted as “seeing it as analogous to what is going on in the wider world right now, especially the continual toxicity of social discourse driven by tribalist views from different positions on the political spectrum.”

In jazz terms you could see it from a different perspective. Back in the day there were much bigger geographic and musical gaps between different jazz scenes. Musicians would visit different places and play but the musical interaction was arguably not large. Sure musicians from different scenes would play together sometimes and some transitioned – mainly at that time to the US and some to the UK and Europe – but the feel of each scene was pretty well preserved.

Over the last 10 to 20 years this has changed, players like Janisch have moved to the UK along with others like Rod Youngs, Gene Calderazzo, Andre Canniere and more. And others have gone the other way Phil Robson, Mark Lewandowski for example.

And the big difference, I think, is that despite their respective moves, many players now tend to have cross-scene bands and projects. So it is with this recording. The main line up may be all American but in addition to leader Janisch on bass an adopted Londoner, John O’Gallagher alto, a former star of the NYC scene is now based in Birmingham. Jason Palmer on trumpet and Rez Abbasi on guitar are still based in the US as is Clarence Penn on drums – he also plays with New Jersey exile Phil Robson both in the US and here.

Of the guests, John Escreet on keys is an Englishman in New York and Scot, Andrew Bain, on drums and percussion spent time in NYC and is now in Birmingham and Bristol. George Crowley on tenor is based in London and is not an exile except from his home town. Worlds Collide indeed.

As I’ve hinted, the music reflects all of these cross-currents. ‘Another London’ kicks off with some signature firm and rounded bass from the leader leading into a funky riff with spacey synth from Escreet then the melody is carried by the horns into a short guitar solo and some solo synth. O’Gallagher picks it up with a lucid and sinuous solo. Escreet underpins with electric piano reminiscent of Chick Corea on Miles’ Bitches Brew. And then it’s out with an ensemble passage.

A quick-fingered repetitive theme opens ‘An Ode to a Norwegian Strobe’ – a kind of double homage to Strobes the UK trio and Marius Neset who Janisch has played with – and this sets the tone with an equally quick-fingered from the horns which morphs via a keys interlude into a morphs stately horn theme into another striking O’Gallagher passage which in turn gives way almost imperceptibly into a Palmer trumpet solo. They trade passages solo and move into ensemble. Keys and guitar chase each other around into a final ensemble statement of the theme.

‘The JJ I Knew’ is dedicated to a family member and is a freer slower tempo number with trumpet and guitar prominent. I haven’t mentioned Penn yet – his work is typically strong everywhere, accenting and kicking the music – but on this track towards the end, the horns underpin a sharp solo passage from the drummer.

‘Frocklebot’ does, as the notes imply, have some Ornette Coleman/Don Cherry free feel though the electric guitar gives it a different twist.

O’Gallagher provides a short and lovely alto solo to the ‘Intro to Pop’. Pop itself is a nearly 13-minute mini-suite dedicated to Janisch’s wife Sara. Stately bass, guitar and alto with Penn subtle underneath start it off and it moves along nicely in the same vein until the last minute or so when the trumpet leads a sharper feel before it softens again and fades.

‘Freak Out’ is back to a boppish quicker tempo with an initial horn theme punctuated with chording guitar. Rez Abbasi picks it up with a resounding long solo before the trumpet takes a more staccato solo. The closing passage has a beautifully written passage for the horns with the guitar in support.

A very impressive recording – collisions indeed, but in a rather good way.

Brian Homer

Erik Truffaz ‘Lune Rouge’ LP/CD (Warner) 4/5

‘Lune Rouge’ is the incredible new album from Erik Truffaz Quartet released through Warner Music Group. Following up on their ‘Doni Doni’ album release in 2016, ‘Lune Rouge’ – which translates to ‘red moon’ – sees Truffaz continue in his long-standing tradition of delivering an all-encompassing jazz project which beautifully infuses so many styles and elements into his sound.

Born in Chêne-Bougeries, Switzerland, but raised in France, trumpeter Erik Truffaz has not only cemented his legacy as a member and contributor to bands including Bugge & Friends, Gare Du Nord, Our Theory but can also boast over twenty releases to his own name as a bandleader dating back to ‘Nina Valéria’ in 1994.

The Erik Truffaz Quartet, which has been the focus of Truffaz’s last few releases, is comprised of long-term members and collaborators including bassist Marcello Giuliani (Keren Ann, Etienne Daho), keyboardist Benoit Corboz (Sophie Hunger, Anna Aaron) and comparatively new Quartet drummer Arthur Hnatek (of the Florian Favre Trio).

And joining them on this particular adventure are very welcome top-notch contributions from Andrina Bollinger, who guests on the sublime, but criminally short, ‘She’s The Moon’, and Blue Note recording artist, Jose James who, considering his own open-minded approach to jazz, proves to be the perfect pick for ‘Reflections’.

Through ‘Lune Rouge’, Truffaz seems to seek inspiration from celestial and astronomical themes throughout – as well as the aptly-named album title, and the title track, the project’s intro, ‘Tanit’, for example, pays homage to the Punic and Phoenician moon goddess of the same name. And further to that, ‘Alhena’ acts as a reference to the third-brightest object in the constellation of Gemini. All themes that Truffaz and company seem to have relished in exploring with compositions like ‘Five on the Floor’, ‘ET Two’ and the album’s 11+ minutes centrepiece, ‘Lunar Rouge’, that all playfully dabble within that science fiction aesthetic.

Erik Truffaz is a revered artist with numerous albums, projects and collaborations as part of his legacy – an artist whose skills and talents have seen him perform all over the world numerous times, and ‘Lune Rouge’ is exemplary of a project that shows Truffaz is still willing to step outside of that box and seek new inspiration. So, with that said, when you’ve been everywhere else, why not go to the moon and back.

Imran Mirza