Category Archives: Album Reviews

Larry Goldings / Peter Bernstein / Bill Stewart ‘Toy Tunes’ CD (Pirouet) 4/5

There is something about the production and the composition of most modern American jazz that immediately Geotags its position in the world and asserts its authority on the jazz scene. For me there seems to be a post production sheen. It manages to deliver an assured reflection of modern life and whilst delving into some darker corners, ultimately portrays a positive outlook. It’s one thing I love about American culture. It’s a winning formula and an approach taken on by huge conglomerates like Hollywood and the big 3 media labels.

The trio’s latest album, Toy Tunes (Pirouet Records, May 2018), manages to recreate not only this production sheen but the certainty that America still exports some of the best jazz music in the world. There are certain albums that conjure mental images right from track one and whilst I desperately attempt to accurately depict this classy piece of work, I couldn’t help but think about Americana and the culture that has transferred across the pond to us Brits. From the acknowledgement of Steely Dans influence with ‘Fagen’ to the laid back swing of ‘Maybe’ this album makes me think of the sleeper cars of blue-collar America. Take a modest framework and turn it into a formidable force; whilst often showcasing historically accurate touches. There is pride in showing the aged and blemished exterior and yet a clear wax is often used to give protection and a ‘sheen’ which not only shows off the history but ironically creates an appealing finish. Under the hood is a vastly superior engine (often hugely secret to all but the highly educated) and every effort has been made to tune it to its full potential. The craftsmanship and time consumption shows the true love the owner has for these amazing vehicles and it’s usually proudly displayed at rallies and events.

You may dismiss this tortured analogy but isn’t it incredible that music can transport you to places that you would not normally explore? For me, I was bowled over by the sheer class and expertise of this trio. It was clearly an American sound and although some of the harmonies were challenging, sophisticated and the sort of chord extensions that get music college students excited, it ultimately had optimism and a timeless quality; a ‘sheen’, if you will. You are never quite sure if it’s exploring post millennial modernism, late 1970’s Fusion or Jimmy Smith-esque Soul Jazz. The album is steeped in history and pays homage to the past whilst creating something new. As I say, you never know what’s ‘under the hood’. It’s funky, it swings and every note seems to land with cool precision. It’s all cleverly put together and shows true instrumental mastery. It doesn’t follow the usual organ trio clichés but focuses on the song form and interaction between musicians. I guess if you take three phenomenal musicians and have them working together since the early nineties then you’re going to get some fine output!

This is a well presented album which has everything tuned to perfection. It misses out on five stars purely for the fact that it’s almost too cool and calculated. I would love to hear the group really ‘gun it’ – I’m sure they do in a live setting. A fine album.

Jay Riley

Chip Wickham ‘Shamal Wind’ LP/CD/DIG (Lovemonk) 5/5

Chip Wickham seemed to appear from nowhere in 2017 with the release of his now critically acclaimed album, ‘La Sombra’, on the Madrid based Lovemonk label, but his musical CV is deep and extensive. As performer and composer over the last 30 years, Wickham has worked with a diverse list including The New Mastersounds, Dwight Trible and Jimpster, covering funk, jazz, deep house and everything else in between, especially working in the north of England and prominently in the Manchester and Leeds areas. For ‘Shamal Wind’, the saxophonist and flautist mines the various corners of the jazz world, from modal and spiritual, to Latin and fusion, utilising a mainly sextet line-up as his previous release was mostly focussed around a quartet configuration. Other players here include pianist Phil Wilkinson, drummer Antonio Alvarez Pax, percussionist David ‘El Indio’ Garcia, Vibraphone by Ton Risco and on upright bass David Salvador, with further contributions from keyboard player Gabri Casanova and renowned UK trumpeter Matthew Halsall, both appearing on one track each.

Wickham’s absorption of the Middle East, his now home, and spiritual jazz amalgamate for the title track ‘Shamal Wind’, the longest piece of the set at 8’40”. References to Yusef Lateef are obvious, but this contemplative and absorbing number sets the tone for the rest of the album’s sensibility. The slightly funk influenced ‘Snake Eyes’ centres around an infectious 1-bar groove which leaves room for the expressive piano stylings of Wilkinson and Wickham’s flute performance, which is very reminiscent of Jeremy Steig. ‘Soho Strut’ is an obvious nod to the influential London jazz scene with its prominent percussion, melodic piano, flute and vibraphone parts envisioning smoky jazz venues and vibrant vinyl record stores – or maybe that’s just me, but this would have easily been played in Digwalls by messrs Peterson and Forge – if it was still a regular Sunday affair.

‘The Mirage’ adds Matthew Halsall on trumpet for this dense and textured composition with Halsall being the perfect companion for the journey, with the flawless balance of flute, trumpet and vibes creating an ideal symmetry. ‘Barrio 71’ is an uptempo afro-Cuban influenced dancer with its 6/8 time signature, baritone saxophone and vibes unison and strong piano additions from Phil Wilkinson. An obvious DJ friendly cut. The final track, ‘Rebel No. 23’, a previously released 7” in 2017 with non-album track ‘The Beatnik’ on the flip is another uptempo number that adds the Wurlitzer electric piano via Gabri Casanova, who has worked with Wickham on previous projects including on the soul jazz/Hammond based ‎’Space Race’ by Blue Mode in 2016.

Strong melodies and counterpoints permeate throughout ‘Shamal Wind’, with all compositions written exclusively by Chip. The group performances are of a high standard but each piece works as a co-operative, allowing for all band members’ own voices to be heard but without being forced. Although Wickham’s previous release, ‘La Sombra’ (2017), placed his work right next to his contemporaries, ‘Shamal Wind’ will hopefully increase his presence as a major player in jazz especially as a recording artist. Many jazz artists struggle to translate a live experience into a recorded medium, but again, Wickham manages to create a body of work that indulges both practices. This is an album that ticks many boxes, including in its writing, performances and arrangements, as well as the audio quality of the mixing and mastering, with the recording to analogue tape a bonus. And as mentioned, the solos are very lyrical and expressive rather than being contrived, adding to a very cohesive piece of work. Possibly one of the best jazz albums of the year.

Live: London 13th June | Camden Assembly

Damian Wilkes

Mark IV ‘Signs Of A Dying Love’ LP/CD/DIG (Cordial Recordings) 4/5

It’s a great time to be collecting soul music, reissue CDs appearing weekly of dusties from back in the day, more vinyl surfacing than for some considerable years regardless of the genre you collect, loads of outlets searching for long lost or unissued product, new releases galore finding their way onto vinyl 45’s and albums, and if you’re into the rare soul scene and collect original releases there appears to be more becoming available than at any time I’ve known in the last ten years, I have a ‘wants list’ of eight 45s that I have never encountered in the flesh, five I’ve never seen for sale until this year that is. This album falls into the unissued category, a four piece group who are well-known in rare soul circles with a couple of their early pieces commanding three figures. My first real introduction to this group was the self titled 1973 Mercury set which was produced by Roy C with further 45s seeing a release from the album too.

Some time later I was exposed to the two rare 45s, “If You Can’t Tell Me Something Good”, which surfaced in 1982 and with Soul Sam behind it, it soon became a grail piece and even today rarely turns up as a 45, the 12” mix appears occasionally, it’s become even more collectable due to the stunning ballad “Take This Love” on the flip. Then we have the 1977 OTB 45, “Signs Of A Dying Love”, again not an easy 45 to find, at the time of recording two versions were cut and the slower more impassioned cut is one of the eleven tracks on the album, all of which were recorded between 1975 and 1977 at three separate recording sessions. The album is a very solid mixture of styles and tempo, which is right up my street, kicking off with the scintillating ballad, “I Got Everything”, with lead vocals by Jimmy Ponder, who gives possibly his best performance on the album. There are two enormous dancers on here too, by way of “I Knew It Wouldn’t Last” and “How I Feel About You”, with the latter destined for plays in modern rooms everywhere, with driving urgent percussion and thumping bass, it will have you moving your feet. The track, however, which has taken over my head, is “Give Me Just A Little”, which is a lovely harmony head-nodder reminiscent of the Main Ingredient in places, certainly a great pick for soul radio.

The group for these recordings consists of Jimmy Ponder, Walter Moreland, Lawrence ‘Buck’ Jones and Preston. I wonder what happened to Lucky Antomattei who appeared as part of the group in the Mercury days? There are two very dated sounding dancers here which could get favour amongst Northern Soul devotees and a couple of worthy instrumentals too, a thoroughly enjoyable album topped off with the man himself, Soul Sam, providing sleeve notes, and quite rightly so, as he tells us the Brite Lite 45 is his favourite soul record of all time, and coming from a man who has consistently broken new ground with his music choices and is still today considered by many to be the top DJ in the country and Europe. Available in all formats including 25 demo copies which were made available prior to its official release.

An essential purchase on every front. Thank you Cordial Recordings.

Brian Goucher

Adrean Farrugia / Joel Frahm ‘Blued Dharma’ CD/DIG (GB) 5/5

Juno Award winning pianist, Adrean Farrugia, has been an active member of the Canadian jazz music scene since the late 1990s. He has appeared on more than 40 recordings and performs locally with the Bob Brough Quartet and Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop among others. He also tours internationally with vocalist Matt Dusk, American trumpeter Brad Goode, and recently, Adrean also leads his own bands Ricochet (whose debut album was nominated for a Juno Award for Best Contemporary Jazz recording in 2011) and the Adrean Farrugia Trio. Adrean is on the faculties of Mohawk College and York University.
A regular on the New York City club circuit, Joel Frahm has appeared alongside musicians such as Brad Mehldau, Bill Charlap and Matt Wilson and has recorded with Diane Schuur, Kurt Elling, Jane Monheit and other top jazz artists. Fans know him for his big tenor sound — fluid, inventive and filled with passion. Downbeat Magazine’s critics’ poll has named him a rising star.

Adrean and Joel have been playing together for around ten years and this is their first album together.
When I first heard this album I thought… “TV/film music”. I remembered the sound track of the film “The Firm” scored and played by the great Dave Grusin. It was solo blues/jazz piano, the whole film – it was brilliant!
I think this combination of tenor or soprano sax and piano in the various styles of jazz, blues and pop rock gives this a really wide appeal and some definite commercial potential.
You might think that an album of original material and a couple of jazz standards would be difficult with no bass and drums – but – this works… It works superbly well.
The interplay between the two players is unimaginable until you hear it, and then you realise what can be achieved with two great players with an almost transcendental connection between them so they produce a sound that I would say only a few people could achieve. You can hear sounds and shades from so many musical styles in each track it is bewildering how just two players could create this. Some of the recordings have a real live ‘one take’ feel about them. You get brilliant improvisation from both which sometimes takes your breath away and other times fills you with pure joy – the joy they must have felt during the recording.

The stand out tracks for me have got to be ‘Blued Dharma’, lovely melody from the soprano sax doubled up on the piano, really well composed track. ‘For Murray Gold’ beautiful ballad dedicated to the BritishTV/film composer Murray Gold, shades of Joni Mitchell I can hear. ‘Half Moon (for Sophia)’ I really like the Soprano Sax, this one is full of melody and rhythm, energy and vitality.
I have been listening to this album over and over trying to find something I don’t like, something to criticise – but I can’t find anything I don’t love. The writing is brilliant, the individual performances are outstanding but most of all, the interplay between the two of them, the commitment and dedication is what makes this a work of genius!

David Izen

Dinosaur ‘Wonder Trail’ LP/CD/DIG (Edition) 3/5

“Wonder Trail” is the follow-up to this highly rated quartet’s 2016 debut “Together, As One”. As with many of her projects, band-leader/composer/trumpeter, Laura Jurd, does not rest on her laurels, once again looking forward with a restless invention, rather than repeating what has gone before.

And yet to move forward, sometimes one has to look back, and with its heady dose of 80s synth-pop, combined with Miles Davis inflected inquisitive themes, it’s fair to say that past adventures combine with future sounds on this intriguing album.

Trumpeter Jurd wrote all of the tracks on this recording, yet the music being created sounds very much a group effort. Jurd is joined by Elliott Galvin on synths and keyboards, Conor Chaplin on electric bass and Corrie Dick on drums. Together they spin a web of creativity that flits between synth-led jazz, pop and folk music. At times the instruments being played make for slightly uneasy bed-fellows, whilst moments of surprise and splendour still manage to take the listener on a musical journey of discovery.

Several of the tunes have an infectious funk-like groove, with Chaplin’s bass and Dick’s drums underpinning Galvin’s melodic yet fragmented techno thrills and spills, with Jurd’s often mystic subtlety of playing hovering in and out effortlessly as the music rises and falls, breathing a unique life of its own. Some of the tracks also feature sung words from a variety of voices that add an almost other-worldly character in a strangely traditional folk-song sense, bringing a warmth and sense of humility to the proceedings.

“Wonder Trail” takes in an array of musical influences and interests, combining a quirkiness and headstrong frivolity with sincere and intelligent luminous soundscapes to create a uniquely living, breathing, musical entity. It is however, the use of the synth as the core sound that brings it all together, the other instruments queued in by its stabs and swirls, energised and contextualised. For some, this music may be the opening of a dream-like door. For others, it may simply be a silent ship that passes quietly in the night.

Mike Gates

Live UK dates:

28th May – BBC The Biggest Weekend, Coventry
14th June – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
15th June – Band On The Wall, Manchester
19th June – Watermill, Dorking
20th June – The Basement Jazz Club, York
21st June – The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
22nd June – King Tut’s, Glasgow
23rd June – Harwich Jazz Festival
28th June – The Garage, Norwich
30th June – Club 85, Hitchin
18th July – The Lescar, Sheffield

Creation Rebel ‘Dub From Creation’ LP (On-U Sound) 5/5

Feeling quiet nostalgic and honoured that this one came my way for a review as it is choc a bloc with memories of dubbist sessions from the late 70s and 80s, whence as a student of the I ‘n’ I music vibes I would literally close my ears to virtually everything else. As long as it was dub it was dubbed. If it wasn’t – it was not played or heard and would not come remotely near (at least a 1 mile radius) to my stylus needle. I first came across Creation Rebel’s ‘Dub from Creation’ (originally on Hitrun records) in a Record Shop in Colchester – of all places. Returning to my prison-like sized digs in William Morris Towers (it was a 13 storey high Tower Block on Essex University Campus) I stayed in for the rest of the day and night playing this LP, A-side, B-Side, flip again, start all over and never getting bored. The ‘neighbour’, a white NF voter banged the wall angrily but I did enjoy fighting down Babylon with Dub every time. Step forward some 40 years and those special slices produced by Adrian Sherwood and engineered by the mighty Dennis Bovell and Sid Bucknor have been re-issued in special limited edition clear vinyl to celebrate the recent Record Store Day. Repressed for the first time this re-issue includes a download card for full album plus two bonus tracks, and printed inner sleeve with a new essay by Steve Barker (The Wire Magazine/BBC Radio) telling the story of the recording in full.

So the year was 1978. A young Adrian Sherwood, on his first production mission, added the necessary dub stardust to the music at Gooseberry Studios after the riddim tracks were created in Jamaica. This was a process or formula many would follow; only 40 years on it is much easier through the wonderful world of the net and online music collaborations. Dennis Bovell engineered with Sid Bucnor, they steered the sounds, and the rest as they say is history. Every generation of dubbists from that time to this time will hold this one up as a starting point. Everything about the release hollered unique. From the mystical cover, with an embryo in the foreground coming out almost wired from the daunting dub kingdom in the background to the sonic frequencies lifting off with the opener ‘Dub From Creation’ a steppers riddim, solid bassline and that melodica mixed up there high in the mix. You can just see the band appearing out of the turrets and towers on the cover, with Dr Pablo on melodica on the highest tower summoning the masses to skank with every note. Sherwood rides by with a mixing desk on a camel and the rest of the band, who made up the Arabs (Prince Far-I’s band) are playing from different places. I am still in total awe of the closing piece, ‘Vision of Creation’, with its minimalism and far out-ness. The template was laid out, the carpet, everything else – rolled out – and once you stepped into the Kingdom of Creation you stayed a Rebel, for life. 10 out of 5!

Haji Mike

Billy Cobham ‘Magic’ / ‘Alivemutherforya’ 2CD (BGO) 4/5

Arguably the fusion era drummer of jazz in the 1970’s (some might argue Alphonse Mouzon, or even still Tony Williams), Billy Cobham gained notoriety in the late 1960s as part of the Horace Silver quintet, and then came the big call from Miles Davis and participation on the seminal ‘Bitches Brew’ album, before then joining the Mahavishnu Orchestra and teaming up again with Miles alumni John McLaughlin. Exciting and heady times for sure. All this work as a sideman meant that when he finally branched out and decided to become a leader in his own right, major record labels were only too willing to oblige and the two out of print vinyl LPs contained here were both on a major, Columbia. The former, from 1977, is the stronger of the two with an interesting band line-up comprising Joachim Kühn on keyboards along with Mark Soskin (the latter would feature with Sonny Rollins) and, interestingly, New Orleans clarinetist Alvin Batiste as well as studio saxophonist extraordinaire, Tom Scott (Joni Mitchell and a whole host of others). While there is nothing particularly outstanding about the music on offer on the first recording, it is enjoyable music nonetheless and indicative of a period in time when jazz was going through both a difficult and transitional period. Even Miles by the mid-1970s had reached a musical dead end, lacking any real direction. Standing out above the rest are, ‘AC/DC’ and the evocative ‘Leaward Winds’. This was also an era when then the elite of musicians tended to record in exotic locations.

The second album, and the more varied, dating from 1978 is immediately striking, however, by virtue of what appears to be a lovely Dutch painting on the cover, and the relationship between the audio and visual world of art is one not lost on other jazz musicians. In fact, upon closer inspection the painting is actually a photo. It follows up on the debut with a not dissimilar line-up, with Mark Soskin once again on board, but with Steve Khan on guitar and Alphonso Johnson (he of Weather Report fame) on electric bass. Key tracks include the percussion heavy ‘Bahama Mama’, a nod to Jaco Pastorius on ‘Some Punk funk’ (‘Punk jazz’ being a Jaco title), while elsewhere there are echoes of the then recent hippy era with a second version of ‘On A Magic Carpet Ride’.

Billy Cobham fully deserves his place among the jazz fusion greats and in this respect is the equal of Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and George Duke, not forgetting Herbie Hancock and Jaco Pastorius, whose talents all flourished during the 1970s. Ten pages of new and detailed notes by Matt Phillips, with another three pages of notes from the original albums help place the music in the wider historical context.

Tim Stenhouse

Various ‘Ernesto Chahoud presents TAITU – Soul​-​fuelled Stompers from 1960s – 1970s Ethiopia’ 3xLP/CD/DIG (BBE) 5/5

Sometimes the way in which compilations are put together are as interesting as the music in hand and so it proves with this splendid anthology of Ethiopian music, the acquiring of the near impossible to find vinyl being a story in its own right. Rewind to war-torn West Beirut in 1981 and a young vinyl collector came across a 45 from Ethiopia among multiple different musical traditions on sale, from Egypt and Iraq to Spain and revolutionary songs from the Soviet Union. This can be explained partly in that well before the post WWII troubles in the Middle East surfaced, Beirut was a stop off for many western musicians and that included the likes of Duke Ellington who was so taken in by the city that he composed a piece to it as part out of his ‘Far East Suite’ (actually it would be more accurate to rename it the ‘Middle and Far East Suite’) called ‘Mount Harrissa’, in homage to the Lebanese mountain town.

Fast forward to the present and a crate digging expedition to the Ethiopian capital that for the first few days seemed to be yielding absolutely nothing, and then suddenly via a contact, as if by some miracle, musical nirvana was finally achieved. The result: a treasure trove of old recordings opened up and it is this momentous discovery that serves as both the inspiration and the hard material for this groundbreaking compilation. The names are mystic and the music, though familiar in beat, has a distinctive Ethiopian heart that cannot fail to melt the soul. Among the wonderful singers who impressed (and the music does require repeated listening to finally grasp its nuances), Getatchew Kassa and the unpronounceable, ‘Fikrishin Eshalehu’, or how about Alemayehu Eshete who features twice and seems to be something of a rhythms and blues devotee. The one name that will mean something to record aficionados over here is that of Mulatu Astatke who opens up proceedings with the well-known instrumental, ‘Emnete’, from 1970’s and that Strut records saw fit to re-issue and rightly so. Not for nothing was he regarded as the Duke Ellington of Ethio-jazz. This compilation, however, focuses thereafter on vocalists and on the unique Ethiopian take on soul and funk, which musicians and the wider public must have been exposed to via radio and home-grown record companies, sadly now all long departed.

Eight pages of individual track by track details which are all the more helpful because the overwhelming majority of musicians are new to these ears, with lovely graphics of labels, album covers and contemporary day photos of the inhabitants of Addis Ababa.

Hopefully, more original Ethiopian music will surface as a result of these and other pioneering efforts. Precisely what an anthology should be about; discovering unheard of musicians and bringing their talents to a wider audience.

Tim Stenhouse

Gene Page ‘Hot City’ / ‘Lovelock!’ CD (BGO) 4/5

Arranger and producer extraordinaire, if you have listened to classic soul music from the likes of The Supremes or The Temptations, or pop music by Cher and Barbara Streisand, there is a very good chance that the production credits and the warmth of sound has some kind of input from Gene Page. he is one of the behind-the-scenes musicians, without whom the music scene could simply not operate. He only recorded four albums under his own name, of which BGO have wisely opted to select the first two (a future offering might want to include Page’s arrangements on the blaxploitation film ‘Blacula’ from 1972) which came out on Atlantic. First up is the 1974 vintage, ‘Hot City’, complete with a suitably attired mademoiselle, and this is noteworthy for the collaboration with none other than soul messenger Barry White. In fact, the two musicians were long-time friends and White was just hitting his creative peak in 1974, both as a lead singer and with his off-shoots, Love Unlimited and the Love Unlimited Orchestra. A who’s who of studio musicians makes this an instrumental feast to savour, with Wilton Felder on bass, Ray Parker Jr., Dean Parks and Wah Wah Watson sharing guitar duties, while Ernie Watts takes care of the reeds. Page and White both play on keyboards. If there is one ingredient missing here, it is the lack of vocals, at least some background voicings would help, and thus even the wonderful intro build ups tend to go a little flat in mid-section. That said, there is still much to admire, with the smooth, silky mid-tempo soul of ‘All Our Dreams Are Coming True’, ‘Gene’s Theme’ and the funkier-tinged ‘Satin Soul’, that features some classic 1970’s wah-wah guitar licks.

The second album, ‘Lovelock!’ from 1976, and this time co-produced between brothers Page, Billy and Gene, thankfully remedies the pitfalls of the first with a slew of female and male vocalists collectively, including Merry Clayton, all gloriously illustrated on the classy strings and reeds accompaniment to a number such as ‘Together – Whatever’. There is something of a Philly International feel to the mid-temp groove of ‘Wild Cherry’, which was co-written by Ray Parker Jr. and Billy Page. On the jazzy with a funk element, ‘Organ Grinder’ (not to be confused with the Jimmy Smith classic), Page manages to evoke the then in-vogue Quincy Jones sound. The onset of dance mania in the form of disco is alluded to with the final number, ‘Escape to Disco. Full marks for excellent packaging with full discographical details and an insightful fifteen page essay by Mojo writer, Charles Waring. Gene Page is a musician who most certainly deserves his own place in the limelight and this re-issue affords him that opportunity and is recommended to genuine soul fans and lovers of atmospheric instrumental soul alike.

Tim Stenhouse

Jakob Bro ‘Returnings’ CD (ECM) 5/5

This is as much an album of Palle Mikkelborg contributions as it is of the official leader, guitarist Jakob Bro. However, do not let that, or, on the surface, the minimalist musing of the guitarist fool you. This is unquestionably a sumptuous recording in the very best tradition of ECM; empathetic relations between the musicians, a warmth of sound that every other label out there can only envy, and above all else stunningly beautiful music that blows away the stresses and strains of daily life. ECM have come up with a real winner of a recording here, and yet again the youthful bassist Thomas Morgan is directly involved in proceedings. Bro is simply not a guitarist who likes to be excessively showy, nor an extrovert. The complete opposite in fact, yet it is precisely that introverted approach that works so well here, and from the very outset on the reposing ‘Oktober’, with the echoey trumpet and the intimate bass being just two of the delights to take in and admire.

Sounding as though it was an off the cuff improvised duet between bass and drums, ‘View’ actually breaks the mould of the rest with drummer Jon Christensen and Thomas Morgan engaging in a highly entertaining conversation on their respective instruments. Dissonant guitar greets the listener on the title track. Elsewhere, the folk ambiance of ‘Strands’ showcases some beautiful ensemble performances, with a natural empathy between guitar and bass, and on top of this lushness, Mikkelborg laying down an exquisite, if somewhat restrained solo, which is entirely in keeping with his fellow musicians. For those not familiar with Mikkelborg, his stunning contribution to the Miles David mid-1980’s album ‘Aura’, makes that a personal favourite of this writer, and he must surely be a candidate for the most underrated and seldom heard nowadays, which is why his participation on this album is such a treat.

A triumphant return then for Jakob Bro and Palle Mikkleborg, reuniting them for the first time on ECM since the 2007 album for Terje Rypdal, ‘Vossabrygg’. This may just be an early contender for album of the year and will most certainly feature in the most enjoyable albums of the year. This writer seriously doubts whether a more relaxing recording is currently out there. The National Health Service should consider making this compulsory listening.

Tim Stenhouse