Aruan Ortiz and Michael Janisch Quintet ‘Banned in London’ (Whirlwind) 3/5

This live recording from the Pizza Express as part of the 2011 London Jazz Festival features music by one of the up and coming formations in New York jazz. The brainchild of bassist Michael Janisch, Boston(?) born, but now resident in London, and Cuban pianist Aruan Ortiz, presently a member also of the Wallace Roney quintet. A truly cosmopolitan line-up is completed by French born, but Barcelona based trumpeter Raynald Colom, Texan Rudy Royston on drums and last but by no means least, the considerable guest skills of one Greg Osby on alto saxophone who has now formed his own label since his tenure at Blue Note ended. Five lengthy compositions, all over then ten minute mark and rising, are divided between three originals (two penned by Ortiz) and two jazz standards. Most lyrical of the originals is Ortiz’s driving ‘Orbiting’ which has a real sense of urgency to it. In parts this live performance is overlong and could do with being truncated by a good few minutes for each piece to ensure greater cohesion. This is a case of self-evident virtuosity by the musicians taking precedence over melodicism and it would aid matters greatly if pianist Ortiz took a more active leading role aside from writing duties. He certainly has all the talent to pull it off. That being said, there is much to commend of the actual playing and trumpeter Raynald Colom is a revelation on a much slower than usual take on Fats Waller’s ‘Jitterbug waltz’ with a tone that recalls early Lee Morgan while Osby is positively Dolphyesque. A nice change of tempo on Monk’s ballad ‘Ask me know’ is the perfect showcase for Ortiz to shine and this piece is a lovely duet between the pianist and Osby. All that is now required is for the band to reduce the amount of time devoted to pieces in order to create a tighter feel and they will excel. Excellent sound quality throughout. Tim Stenhouse

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