Pete Roth Band ‘Circus in the Sky’ (MGP) 3/5

pete-roth-bandProduced by fellow guitarist and MPG label founder Nicolas Meier, London-based guitarist Pete Roth belongs firmly to the contemporary school of the jazz guitar, with influences ranging from John Scofield to Pat Metheny, and on this latest release is accompanied by a five piece group that includes multi-reeds, drum and percussion and a guest appearance on one track by producer and fellow musician Meier. The album works best on the reflective numbers such as ‘Morning Prayer’ which has a lovely ECM feel to it and on the pared down acoustic guitar on ‘The Return’ which is Methenyesque in execution. Indeed, throughout the album Roth is supported by some subtle percussive work from Gabor Dornyei and Terl Bryant while the duetting between the leader and multi-reedist Loren Hignell is another positive feature and exemplified on the reposing ‘Malaika’. There are still questions, however, to be resolved over whether Roth has yet to fully establish his own identity and some of the lengthier jazz-rock excursions as on ‘Uprise’ can become a tad laborious in places and needs to be reduced to avoid excessive filler. Nonetheless, there is a good deal of promise in the ensemble interplay and the mid-tempo ‘Smile’ is a genuine highlight with some delightfully lyrical tenor saxophone playing from Loren Hignell. For a funky twist on the jazz-fusion idiom, ‘RB School’ fits the bill and features some excellent tenor saxophone and electric guitar soloing.

Tim Stenhouse