Dave Ingham Group ‘A Sea Of Green’ CD (Self-released) 4/5

The Dave Ingham Group is 10 years old this year. So, to celebrate, let’s unwrap “A Sea of Green”; a 33-minute presentation box of Ingham penned gifts, where the G (of DIG) consists of Ingham (saxes, bells, flute), Stephen Mynott (guitar), Vilem Hais (double bass) and Azzy King (drums, percussion).

Opener “Upstream” is peppy, breezy, free and easy. Hais and KIng really make things happen; impellent but always very cool with it. There’s a fresh late 50s jazz via modal vibe going on, and visual energy that conjures atmospheric, angular (down to Mynott’s tidy chordal work), art shots of the musicians performing. Ingham’s soprano, so-sweet, responds to and rides on, the dynamic pulse and movements created by the other players. An opener of real vigour and swing.

“Straw Dogs” is much less carefree. It has a slightly airless, mildly oppressive feel collectively laid down by Hais’s deep 4 note lines, King’s coercive pushing and Mynott’s doomed chords. Ingham’s beautifully economic soprano tells stories of emotion, movement and places unseen via a Murakami-like simple prose.

“A Sea Of Green” has a big, enveloping, 80s Brit soul jazz reverb with the trippy space of Peter Green’s Albatross. It’s a composed, confident, loungin’ execution that slides effortlessly around a satisfying, Mynott 2 chord motif. Solos by Ingham and Mynott (love all of his sound) are lyrical, genial and germane. Again, it’s about simple language that communicates so much. This time bewitching with deeply seductive sensual movement. Salacious.

“Hometown Blues” is a drowsy, Joe Pass guitar-led haze. Hais and King admirably hold it down without dozing off as Ingham, now on tenor, and Mynott gently mosey and deeply meditate.

The album busies to its end with “Race To The Sun”. Hais’s high energy bassline hustles the lads into supporting its infectious groove, periodically relenting to allow space to open up for percussive explorations; Ingham as flautist; and Mynott to give his guitar a good working over as the sun finish line awaits.

What a hip, swingin’, sonically-charming 10th-anniversary present “A Sea of Green” is. It’s a real grower, so if you can find time to listen with intent and allow it to wash over you, you will be greatly rewarded. There’s a choreography to it, a clear direction; it’s swimming in movement while creating strong visualisations and absorbing atmospheres…like a minimalist, jazz Richard Hawley. Changes in pace are always used to create a clear dynamic, a shift – you look forward to them and anticipate them, no real surprises or challenges. Composition and musicianship are empathically bonded; there’s an innate understanding of what needs playing but more importantly what not to play – like the best of design. And each musician gets a big stand-out mention for what they bring.

In summary, then, I really dig The DIG.

Ian Ward