“Somewhere in the middle” is the third release from this London based contemporary jazz five-piece. Led by composer and guitarist Vitor Pereira, the band also features Chris Williams on alto sax, Alam Nathoo on tenor sax, Mick Coady on bass and Adam Teixeira on drums.
The original compositions are largely sax driven, with the two saxophonists combining admirably at the forefront of most of the tunes. Perhaps best described as a contemporary jazz meets prog-rock album, the music is at times on the fringe of an avant-garde self-indulgence, but always on the listenable side with edgy melodies and crisp improvisation.
There is a definite rock sensibility to Pereira’s writing and performing, but for me it’s the more rounded, subtle and lyrical pieces on this recording that stand out. “Tag Along” has a freshness to it that is joyously inventive, with the two saxophones intertwining skilfully and creatively. As on a lot of the album, solos come mostly from the sax players, with guitar acting as melodious support for the main part. I like the way some of the tunes gradually unfold; the title track being a prime example. The confidence of the musicians shine on this piece, akin to a Pat Metheny-esque adventurous journey taking in all of life’s twists and turns, learning and developing as it goes. Pereira is at his best on the sumptuous “Twilight Trails”, a beautifully meandering guitar-led tune that brings out the best from everyone involved. The writing is strong yet subtle, allowing for sweeter harmonies than on most of the session. To my mind the album as a whole might have benefitted from a few more tunes like this one, with less focus given to the slightly aggressive musical style employed on some of the tunes.
This release warrants a few listens to get the best from it. There’s a creativity and purpose to it that has to be admired. Some tunes undoubtedly work better than others, but the intriguing nature of the compositions give it an edge that suggests more is to come from this band in the future.
09/11/2018 – Bristol – Bebop club
10/11/2018 – Shrewsbury – The Hive
12/11/2018 – Manchester – The Whiskey Jar
13/11/2018 – Birmingham – The Spotted Dog
16/11/2018 – Birmingham – Jazzlines
17/11/2018 – Brighton – The Verdict
18/11/2018 – Southampton – Southampton Modern Jazz Club
05/12/2018 – London – The Vortex (Official release date)