Compassionate Dictatorship ‘Entertaining tyrants’ (Jellymould) 3/5

One of the latest in a series of up and coming London-based collective of musicians, Compassionate Dictatorship were formed in 2007 by co-leaders guitarist Jez Franks and tenor saxophonist Tori Freestone who had worked together from as far back as 1993. This is the group’s debut recording for the enterprising indie jazz label Jellymould and with both the Norwegian double bassist Jasper Hølby and drummer James Maddren onboard, the future looks decidedly rosy for them. Overall the music veers towards post-bop territory with a definite nod to Wes Montgomery in the guitar department. This is typified by a composition such as ‘Anger management’ which has something of a jam session feel to it and some John Coltrane-influenced tenor from Freestone. Indeed it is the co-leader who shines on the mid-tempo ‘Bubble and squeak’. Perhaps the more uptempo numbers are in places a tad messy and need to be pared down and refined. That said, the band are very much at home on ballads and this is emphasised by two ballads written by the two founding members. Elsewhere there is fine interplay between guitar and saxophone on the gentle ‘In the chophouse’ and an extended solo from Franks whereas ‘Sit tight’ features some sensitive drum work from Maddren, fine tenor playing and a guitar solo which hints at Pat Metheny. Underpinning it all is some solid as a rock bass playing from Hølby. Select live dates in the UK will take place during June and July. Tim Stenhouse

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