Aleksi Heinola Quintet ‘Aleksi Heinola Quintet’ LP/CD (Jazzaggression) 5/5

Jazzaggression Records boast the distinct pleasure of presenting the debut self-titled project from the Aleksi Heinola Quintet.

With a strong focus on reissues of undiscovered past masterpieces (like the release of the Californian soul/jazz collective High Risk’s 1974 album or the Bird Curtis Quintet album ‘Needs B’ from 1969), Jazzaggression Records have always had one foot firmly in the past while also showcasing a forward-thinking and innovative take on their new and contemporary releases. Aleksi Heinola and his Quintet have unveiled a record that acts as the perfect embodiment of each of those qualities – while still maintaining its respect for past icons like drummer Art Blakey, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Horace Silver, the Finnish drummer and composer, Heinola, crafts a stunning debut hard bop outing which serves as a wonderful introduction to his skill and talent.

A jazz fan from an incredibly young age, Heinola was purchasing vinyl releases bearing the iconic logos of Blue Note Records and Weather Report even in his early-teens, as well as drumming in a variety of funk, soul and jazz bands. Incredible focus and determination has seen Heinola, now in his mid-twenties, surrounded by a dream team of musicians comprising the Quintet of his debut album…

Mikko Gunu Karjalainen claims trumpet duties for this album with his credentials stemming from the Ricky Tick Big Band and his own Mikko Gunu Karjalainen Italian Quartet project; double bassist Daniel Franck who, amongst his many releases, can include his own Daniel Franck Quartet and numerous recordings for the revered Danish label Stunt records; Tenor saxophonist Manuel Dunkel’s immense body of work comes as a member of Manuel Dunkel Quartet, Manuel Dunkel United & Proton String Quartet as well as additional bands including the UMO Jazz Orchestra; finally, Mikael Jakobsson on piano attests to another extensive list of collaborations as well as being a member of the awesome Five Corners Quintet.

With seven of the track’s albums composed by Heinola himself, ‘Aleksi Heionola Quintet’ houses two covers with ‘Wives & Lovers’ – the 1963 classic by Burt Bacharach and Hal David – and ‘Book’s Bossa’ which was composed by bassist Walter Booker and famously performed by pianist Cedar Walton. Both numbers beautifully tackled and over the project’s nine tracks, Heinola skilfully demonstrates the full range of his arsenal, skipping through his cherished hard pop style of jazz while interweaving subtle nods to Latin and Afro stylings in perfectly exquisite measures.

Imran Mirza

Kelvin Andreas ‘Vivid Imagery’ (Self-released) 3/5

‘Vivid Imagery’ is the new self-released album from Kelvin Andreas. Kelvin is based in Boston, having trained at the city’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. Kelvin is the drummer on this record, with alto saxophonist Nathan See, pianist Takeru Saito and bassist Soso Gelovani. The compositions are beautifully executed by the young quartet. The sound has strong foundations in Jazz but with some grooving contemporary beats from Kelvin taking centre stage on tracks like ‘Bloom’.

The wistful opening tune ‘Manchester by the Sea’ quickly lulls you away, with its soothing solos and pensive brush-work. Next, comes another ballad with ‘Snowdance’, however, it’s a lot more modern with adventurous sax solos, a dynamic growth and hip piano chords.

In contrast to the conservative overture, ‘Bloom’ is reminiscent of something modernist Robert Glasper might produce, it has a distinct RnB laid-back feel. An edgier nature is gained with the addition of the electric bass and soulful piano. The track has no saxophone, but the piano’s inventiveness and uplifting hook keeps interest, although the bass solo is little lacklustre.

‘Awake’ feels like the weakest of the session, a little meandering and rudderless. The opening melody doesn’t hold interest. However, the last sax solo really saves the track, it’s expressiveness and assertiveness impresses like a solo from virtuoso Norwegian tenor saxophonist Marius Neset.

The string section’s introductory interlude on ‘By the Riverside’ adds some extra sophistication and gravitas, later elevating the saxophone for a truly climactic and heartfelt moment. It’s a resolute composition with a mournful yet powerful sentiment. However, it does feel like a rather abrupt ending for a tune with such passion and beauty.

‘Purple Sky’ is more akin to Hard Bop, taking a more brutal approach complete with ambling bass line and adventurous soloing. Pianist Takeru takes command on this track and plays with an innocent yet confident intent, injecting ferocious bursts of pace. Nathan’s sax tone is controlled and has a maturity crucial for a convincing Blues number. Later on, he really lets loose here too, evoking similar squeals shrill dissonance to Wayne Shorter.

The session closes with ‘Till I See You Again’, another classic ballad. A fitting, if a little insipid, conclusion to the album which at times produces some excellent performances.

Fred Neighbour

Bill Evans ‘Evans In England’ 2LP-RSD/2CD (Resonance) 3/5

One naturally dabbles with a variety of musicians throughout their listening life, discovering and overlooking great works, and artists for that matter, in a personal quest for enjoyment. We pursue particular instruments we enjoy, record labels that present consistency or artists themselves. We each follow a path, and nobody should be judged for their musical choices along that individual journey. Just as there are fanatics, there are equal quantities of cynics, whether it be the disco era, jazz-fusion, electric Miles, avant-guard – it’s really just about how it makes you feel, and to be blunt, everyone else can go to hell. For me, live music is where maximum enjoyment comes from, with live recordings ranking high when produced to such a high level that you are transported to a given moment in time. The energy filters through from stage to the here and now from said record. For me though, even with 200+ albums available, the work of Bill Evans rarely raised its head along that personal 35-year stroll. My first experience would surely have been on Miles Davis’ groundbreaking ‘Kind Of Blue’, then through researching Jazz 625, where Evans’ trio in 1965 included Chuck Israels and Larry Bunker. It was from those recordings that I first heard ‘Elsa’, ‘My Foolish Heart’, ‘Who Can I Turn To’ and ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’, compositions featured here some two years later. Jazz 625 proved very educational, though the recording quality was, in most parts, bright and poor – more visually exciting I suppose. But although his sensitive playing could rarely be questioned, when the sign post ahead read Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Ahmad Jamal, Andrew Hill and Horace Silver, the feet never took me to Bill’s street, and so it is with regret in parts that this latest archival release from the acclaimed Resonance label finds my naivety for who clearly many regard highly in jazz’s ivory cul-de-sac.

At the time of this previously unreleased December 1969 Ronnie Scott’s live date, Evans had released over 20 studio albums (his 1956 ‘Speak Low’ had just been reissued on Riverside, described as “probably the best jazz piano LP of the 50s by Jazz Monthly’s Brian Priestley) and 2 live albums; had notably worked alongside George Russell, Gary McFarland and Cannonball Adderley before joining Edgar ‘Eddie’ Gómez on his debut appearance on ‘A Simple Matter Of Conviction’ for Verve records in 1966; a partnership that would last many years beside Marty Morrell in the well-documented trio to hand. We are presented with 18 pieces of music, many standards, at a period when London would have been familiar turf for pianists Stan Tracey, Dudley Moore and Michael Garrick. Ronnie Scott’s themselves were celebrating 10 years in the live music business. But what can we expect with a recording off a portable machine using a single microphone from a punter in the audience? Even with today’s sophisticated mastering facilities, which Resonance clearly have access too, this is still rather flat -particularly in the case of ‘So What’- in comparison to professionally recorded works to which one shouldn’t overlook in a time when we are exposed to more and more ‘archival’ releases than ever. There are thoughtful arrangements in abundance across the two discs; on ‘Re: Person I Knew’, the bass of Gómez is prominent and a welcome relief to the set. ‘Very Early’ swings and something of a highlight while ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’ is one of the better numbers to be preserved; the subtle playing captured with all its refinements. This release, therefore, has its ups and downs with quality; the enjoyment level for me is a little too hit a miss although admittedly, the whole package is somewhat hard to fault, embellished with detailed liner notes, essays, rare photos and interviews all raising the stakes in the ‘need to have’ categories.

For those keeping a close eye on the label’s release schedule, ‘Some Other Time – The Lost Session from the Black Forest’ from 2016 and ‘Another Time: The Hilversum Concert’ from 2017 will be familiar terrain. The latter, with the inclusion of ‘Emily’ and ‘Nardis’ have been highlights in the rediscovery of Bill Evans’ works for this writer. Putting something on the turntable that is a ‘new’ album, I feel a closer bond than picking up a second-hand album that’s familiar to many – I’m hearing it when everyone else is for the first time, and that impacts significantly on my psyche. So in the many years of side-stepping the work of Bill Evans, this three-year discovery has opened up doors into other albums, and isn’t that how we discover great music? Applauding Resonance for their attention to detail and commitment to both the Bill Evans’ estate and the buying public pays dividends. So the sound isn’t as great as we would like, but then we are listing to history here and having that available is far more important in understanding the path these great musicians took.

Steve Williams

Read also:
Bill Evans ‘Some Other Time – The Lost Session from the Black Forest’ 2CD (Resonance) 5/5
Bill Evans ‘Another Time: The Hilversum Concert’ LP/CD (Resonance) 4/5

Ralph Alessi ‘Imaginary Friends’ CD (ECM) 3/5

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi’s third release for the ECM label features him fronting his long-time working quintet, with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, pianist Andy Milne, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Mark Ferber joining Alessi for a set of 9 tunes, all composed by the band-leader.

Over the past decade and a half, Alessi’s quintet has often gone by the moniker This Against That, with this version of the line-up making 2 previous albums together and touring extensively. The trumpeter has a particularly strong relationship with Ravi Coltrane, since becoming friends as students. The maturity of this pairing can clearly be heard throughout this recording, their intuitive partnering bearing fruit on many of the tunes, none more so than on the title track with the duo’s interwoven chemistry a joy to behold.

The combination of Alessi and Coltrane working together in such a skillful, dynamic and thoughtful way is in itself the highlight of the album. Witnessing the pair combining their talents on the sumptuous opener “Iram Issela”, the more upbeat “Melee”, and the delightful “Oxide”, brings an obvious warmth and kinship to the music being made. “It has been a wonderful thing witnessing Ravi mature as a musician,” Alessi says. “He has such a beautiful sound, with a distinctive voice on the instrument – not an easy thing on the tenor sax, in particular. He has acquired a new level of depth in recent years and sounds great on this new album.” And I would certainly echo those thoughts.

The trio of Andy Milne, Drew Gress and Mark Ferber work intelligently together, creating a solid foundation for the two horn players, with a cool sophistication emanating from the quintet as a unit. There seems to be a focus on exploration and discovery on many of the tunes, with varying results, with some moments hitting the sweet spot, and others not quite so, but overall this is a consummate and accomplished album.

Mike Gates

Read also:
Ralph Alessi ‘Quiver’ (ECM) 3/5
Ralph Alessi ‘Baida’ (ECM) 4/5

Mike Walker ‘Ropes’ CD (Madhouse/Market Square) 5/5

Having read in recent years some of Mike Walker’s unpublished poetry, it is interesting to hear how the guitarist’s music on “Ropes”, his second release as band-leader, mirrors the heart and mind of Walker the wordsmith. Where the words of the poet are thoughtful, wise, reflective and quietly questioning, so is his music performed on this very engaging album.

Originally commissioned for the Manchester Jazz Festival and debuted there in 2008, the recently released studio recording showcases Walker’s talents as a composer, not just the awesome guitarist jazz listeners have come to know and love over several decades. Alongside Walker, the core quintet for this album includes saxophonist/clarinetist Iain Dixon, drummer Adam Nussbaum, pianists Les Chisnall or Gwilym Simcock, and bassists Steve Watts or Steve Rodby. Several other musicians feature in addition to the twenty-two piece Psappha Strings Orchestra which is central to much of the music presented here.

It would be far too lazy and ill-considered to use the old phrase ‘jazz with strings’, which undervalues in so many ways both jazz and the intelligent use of strings, but if one were to go down that road, then ‘strings with jazz’ might be more appropriate. At the heart of “Ropes” is the lyrically beautiful and beguiling three piece “Ropes” movement, a thoughtful, contemplative neo-classical musical journey. The orchestral soundscapes produce pictures of beauty, like the musical interpretation of a Turner landscape watercolour.

The album opens with the breathtaking minimalism of “Still Slippery Underfoot”, the lone, starkly melancholic piano leading the listener into a slowly unfolding, tender feeling of compassion and warmth. As strings and clarinet enter the scene, one might be comparing the music to Vaughan Williams and Henryk Gorecki, rather than the guitarist’s previous collaborations with The Impossible Gentlemen and Julian Arguelles. As the three part Ropes Movement unfolds, we are treated to glorious, repeating themes, delicate instrumentation, deliciously integrated orchestrations with jazz ensemble, and yes, some beautifully subtle and masterful guitar work from Walker himself.

The album continues with “Devon Beam”, a more straight-ahead jazz quintet piece, but none the less satisfying. “Wallendas Last Stand” has a cool, almost Brazilian vibe to it, with pizzacato and romantically lush strings adding to the gentle, alluringly soft and reflective atmosphere of the tune. There’s a more inquisitively playful feel to “Madhouse and the whole thing there”. What begins as a somewhat dark, quirky piece, ends up leaving the listener feeling uplifted and hopeful with its brightness and clever change of vibe, featuring some of Walker’s finest moments on guitar. “Slip Not” closes the album; a short reflective piece on piano, perhaps the beginning of the end, or the end of a beginning.

“Ropes” is a triumph in many ways. It is poetic. It is beautiful. And to quote the first few lines of Walker’s poem inside the album sleeve: “Come, dear one, let’s walk through the echo of this moment…” Inspiration comes from many things, but most of all perhaps, from people and our relationships with one another. With “Ropes”, Walker has brought to life a sense of classical romanticism and jazz sensibility. Moments of insightful and reflective music made with passion and skill. What more could a listener ask for.

Mike Gates

Preston Glasgow Lowe ‘Something About Rainbows’ LP/CD (Whirlwind Recordings) 4/5

“Something About Rainbows” is the inventive guitar-led fusion trio’s follow-up to their highly promising eponymous 2016 Whirlwind debut recording. This time round there’s an increased feeling of togetherness and originality coming through, with guitarist David Preston, bassist Kevin Glasgow and drummer Laurie Lowe all contributing to the whole with stunning individual performances moulded around a clear sense of group unity.

The character of this trio is let loose on the seven original tunes. There’s a heady mix of intricate, thunderous energy with aesthetic, harmonic grace. And while LA-based photographer Josh Rose’s minimal ‘industrial rainbow’ cover art reflects the album’s sometimes darker, melancholic vibe, the trio also uncover fresher sunlit colours in their latest writing and experimentation.

“As we toured our first album, we were actively exploring new material and discovering a greater harmonic, rhythmic and dynamic range”, explains Preston. “So alongside the heavier, metal-rock feel – more full-on now than anything we’ve previously created – increasingly delicate and conceptually open expressions appeared, so consequently the new compositions feel more pristine yet a lot freer, each having its own feature.” And there’s certainly a captivating, iridescent quality to the trio’s output, one which flows with the skill and ease brought on by regular touring and writing together.

The album opens with the intriguingly enticing “Fumes”, with guitarist David Preston’s overlapping time signatures creating a multi-faceted chordal landscape, propelled by Kevin Glasgow’s agile bass and Laurie Lowe’s rapid-fire percussion. The jazz-funk fusion makes way for the differing pop/jazz pulses of “Beat 5”. Inspired by David Preston’s explorative input into a sequencer matrix, there’s a surprising cool jazz swing at its heart, with some top-notch soloing raising the temperature. “Something About Rainbows” is unabashedly heavy, with gritty, overdriven Geddy Lee-like bass octave pedal riffs underpinning outrageously breakneck guitar; more like listening to rock legends Rush in their prime than a 2019 jazz trio. The band’s emphasized sense of contrast is heard vividly on the wispy vignette “May”, where Preston’s crystalline guitar melodies float above delicate, high-register bass chords and feathery cymbals. Then the sprightly ‘Truex’ shimmers to cascading guitar phrases and rock-out solos against distorted, q-tron bass sounds and meticulous drum figures – a no-nonsense feel-good with the trio all on the same grid. There’s an innate freedom to “3D Weirdos” that really does float my boat. It’s tense yet beautiful, with a whimsical feel that’s looser than the rest of the album’s tunes, it’s warmth and exploratory nature making it one of my favourite tracks on the recording. The dark, expansive closer “HWH” reminds me a little of a pre-countrified, less esoteric, early ECM era Bill Frisell album. His “Lookout For Hope” recording was more of an expansive band thing than a lot of his music that has since followed, and I’m reminded of that vibe when I listen to this.

“Something About Rainbows” is one of those albums that’s pleasingly genre defying. Essentially it’s a jazz-rock fusion album, but one that truly highlights this trio’s originality.

Mike Gates

Read also: Preston Glasgow Lowe ‘Preston-Glasgow-Lowe’ CD (Whirlwind Recordings) 4/5

Various ‘Music From Turkey featuring the Sameyda Ensemble CD (Caprice) 3/5

The Swedish label, Caprice Records are releasing ‘Music From Turkey’ as part of their ‘Music From’ series. As the title suggests, this album is a compendium of different Turkish musical styles, traditional and popular, classical and folk. It is actually two previous releases merged together .The first eleven tracks were released in 1973 on an album unsurprisingly called ‘Turkisk Musik’. It was recorded and compiled by record producer and ethnomusicologist, Deben Bhattacharya. The remaining twelve tracks are from the mid eighties by a group of Sweden based Turkish musicians called the Semeyda Ensemble. Accompanying the music, there is a 100 page document with essays on Turkish music and details of the recordings.

The ‘Turkisk Musik’ section is a typical world music sampler. We get a dizzying dash through folky tunes, some improvisational works on typical instruments such as the cura and the bağlama, music for dances like the Zeybek and then regional varieties from places such as Antep, Karadeniz and Erzurum. There’s a track of Dervish songs and also even military marching music. It is very ambitious to try to cover an entire nation’s musical traditions in just eleven tracks and the variety is bewildering. However, it is interesting as an educational tool and enhanced by having the booklet to browse while listening. This section is probably fascinating for ethnologists and anthropologists and there are some lovely, interesting tunes on here but it’s just not very coherent as an album of music.

The Semeyda tracks concentrate solely on modern versions of folk music so it provides a more lucid listening experience than the earlier tracks. Semeyda was a six piece group of multi-instrumentalists founded by singer, Sevinc Uygur. The instrumentation is traditional as is the performance. The only departure from the standards is the instrumental ‘Improvisation on Turkish and Bulgarian Bagpipes’. Uygur’s voice is pleasantly light and clear but a little nasal and slightly lacking in authority. Overall it’s an enjoyable set and rather conventional compared to some versions of these songs by other artists. It is a solid introduction to a form of music which is still relevant to modern Turkey. The standout tracks are ‘Değirmenci’, ‘Ayna Ayna Ellere’ and ‘Mani’.

‘Music From Turkey’ is a bit of a mixed bag. If it was just a re-release of ‘Turkisk Musik’, it would be useful in gaining knowledge of some of Turkey’s rich musical heritage, but for most listeners, I suspect it would sit unused on the shelf after barely a couple of listens. The combination of contrasting musical styles is jarring. Fortunately, the addition of the Sameyda tracks make this a music album rather than a museum exhibit and something to return to for pleasure after learning all you want from it.

Kevin Ward

Azymuth ‘Demos [1973-75] Volumes 1&2’ 2xLP/CD (Far Out Recordings) 4/5

In the early 1980s, Notting Hill Record & Tape Exchange, a well-known London-based record shop which focused on rare and used music, would package and seal a carrier bag of say 20 records and sell them as lucky dip bags for £1. Within the package, they would always include one or two funk or soul gems. One of those records I vividly remember was Azymuths classic 12″ ‘Dear Limmertz’. And there began a pre-internet adventure of discovering more of the incredible sound that was Azymuth as well as discovering many other previously unheard jazz-funk and fusion bands.

This new highly anticipated album epitomises the bands early freedom principle and boundary-pushing authenticity that helped shape their distinctive sound over the forthcoming years. Azymuth ‘Demos 1973-75′ is a rare and valuable documentation of the bands early recordings prior to their signing for the Brazilian label Som Livre and thereafter on Orrin Keepnews’ Milestones label for whom the band recorded many of their well-known albums.

Left untouched for over 20 years it was unlikely that this Important music would ever emerge from the archives until a particular trip to Brazil by Far Out label owner Joe Davis. It was on this trip that he met up with Azymuth’s late great Roberto Bertrami at his home studio in Rio de Janeiro, which led to the discovery of the dusty demos. Had it not been for the Joe and the team at Far Out Records this rare insight would have been lost and most probable forgotten. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work that went into bringing these lost gems back from obscurity.

Featuring some great cover artwork that captures the essence of a moment in time and a beginning of a journey not yet realised, the album lays focus on 16 tracks, spread over two volumes on vinyl or, on either one CD or on digital format.

The band Azymuth have travelled through the decades with a timeless captivating appeal that nearly always seems imaginative and adventurous. Their music is warm, inviting, progressive yet illusive. The demos featured on this collection evoke a particular insight into the freedom and energy that surrounded the group’s music in those formative years. The album also explores their individual genius, highlighted on tracks such as ‘Bateria do Mamao’, on which drummer Ivan Conti brings his incredible skills to the stage with a 7-minute solo workout laying sparks of genius upon a tight driving groove.

In 1975 the group released their seminal self-titled debut album ‘Azimuth’, on the Brazilian label Som Livre, which has since become regarded as one of their best albums. One of the highlights on the album was a track titled ‘Manha’, which is in many fans top 5. On ‘Demos 1973-75’ we get the chance to hear an excellent alternative version of ‘Manha’, which spreads out over 7 minutes supporting the freedom for the group to shape a more probing spacious sound.

All through ‘Demos 1973-75’, you can feel the collective sound in its early formation. Music that has inspired many throughout the years and continues to inspire. There’s a liberating air about the sound. For instance on the excellent space funk cut ‘Melo de Cuica’ which had a slight Meters feel, or on ‘Laranjeiras’; where the late keyboard player Jose Roberto Bertrami weaves a dreamy journey that was vaguely reminiscent of a track by Paz on their album ‘Kandeen Love Song’. Check the 4Hero remix of ‘Laranjeiras’ on the Misturada 3 compilation on Far Out or some other great remixes such as an early remix of ‘Tempos Atraz’ by Adrian [APE Sounds] which was featured on the Future Sounds of Jazz 5 compilation back in the ’90s. Compelling music indeed.

Azymuth’s music has led to many collaborations over the years. For instance Madlib under his Jackson pseudonym on his album ‘Sujinho’ features alongside Azymuth drummer Ivan Conti who also collaborated with Grupo Batuque and was part of the Ipanemas magic alongside Wilson Das Neves and Astor Silva. Check the trio’s album ‘Samba Is Our Gift’ on Far Out Recordings.

Azymuth ‘Demos 1973-75’ is a perfect platform in which to explore many of the other subsequent recordings that Azymuth gifted the music world. Far Out have pieced together a great selection which grows with each listen. A highly recommended and welcome release.

Mark Jones

Read also:

Ivan ‘Mamão’ Conti ‘Poison Fruit’ LP/CD (Far Out Recordings) 5/5
Azymuth ‘Butterfly’ (Far Out Recordings) 4/5
Azymuth ‘Outubro’ (Far Out Recordings) 4/5
Azymuth ‘Fênix’ LP/CD (Far Out Recordings) 4/5
Azymuth ‘Aurora’ (Far Out Recordings) 4/5
Azymuth ‘Light As A Feather’ LP/CD (Far Out Recordings) 5/5

Elliot Galvin Trio ‘Modern Times’ LP/CD (Edition) 4/5

Elliot Galvin is a pianist to get excited about. He has an eclectic style that Jazz listeners will love, but his creativity and emotional range mean there’s something for others not usually attracted to the genre. Elliot’s latest album entitled ‘Modern Times’ is his second with Edition Records (third in total); a record label recently described by 6Music DJ Gilles Peterson as ‘the UK ECM and a bit more…It could be my favourite British Jazz label’.

Despite being called ‘Modern Times’, the record used a decidedly old-school recording technique, being live-mixed and recorded direct to vinyl in one continuous take for each side. This, of course, is Elliot’s quiet protest at an age in which he feels music is ‘sometimes overproduced and treated as a disposable commodity’. It’s his earnest way of encouraging us to sit down and treat the album as an entity.

Also, a conscious decision was to play with only acoustic pianos. Having become, disengaged with acoustic instruments, Elliot saw a solo piano performance from Jason Moran at Montreux, ‘I was so inspired. It was so immediate and human’.

It’s what his own music feels like on this album, quirky melodies and percussion with intrepid leaps into the unknown. Stripped away are the cavernous reverbs and Popcorn Synths. Yet it’s still unmistakably Elliot Galvin. The same musicians accompany him as on previous album ‘The Influencing Machine’: Tom McCredie on Double Bass and Corrie Dick on Drums. Both seem to share Elliot’s sensibilities and vision, underpinning his reveries with great consideration. On opener ‘Ghosts’ Elliot sets off with intent, using a mostly chordal approach he eloquently navigates the incessant bass to create a forbidding groove.

‘Mr Monk’ begins more tentatively, here Elliot provides his own transient bass lines before slipping into heavier, more ominous periods. Finally, comes the jaunty tip of the hat to Thelonious, himself. Tom McCredie prowls in on the edgy ‘Cat and Mouse’, half way through breaking into deranged clapping rhythms which provides more interest and instability. Tom’s distressed wails and sombre bowing is superb on ‘Fountainhead’. Preceded by chaotic avant-garde classical piano playing before Elliot supports in a contrasting impressionist fashion. McCredie’s bowing concludes the stuttering ‘Jackfruit’, in a way reminiscent of the contorted guitar feedback of Jimi Hendrix.

‘Gold Shovel’ is a prickly and forceful blues number with a more vulnerable contemplative motif book-ending the dissonant aggression. It twists and turns like a disobedient child set on defying all structural norms.

The spiritual ‘Into The Dark’ is a calming antidote to the previous track. It’s uplifting yet understated with references to American Gospel. However, it heads into -as its name suggests- something graver, more threatening and dramatic with swelling cymbals and crooked chords. Final track, ‘To The Moon’ begins in an energetic, hurried mood. Notes ring out like urgent Morse code preparing systems for lift-off. It wonderfully demonstrates the speed control the musicians possess, even when all are playing to their fullest.

The album’s compositions are both emotional intelligent and technically proficient, it rewards uninterrupted listening as intended. This trio is a triumphant ambassador for the thriving British Jazz scene.

Fred Neighbour

Read also: Elliot Galvin ‘The Influencing Machine’ CD (Edition) 4/5

Sounds Of Liberation ‘Untitled [Columbia University 1973]’ LP (Dogtown) 4/5

2019 is turning out pretty good if you (like me) are a fan of 70s American community-focused, politicised spiritual jazz. We’ve had reissues from Chicago’s Infinite Spirit Music, Detroit’s Griot Galaxy and several from LA’s Horace Tapscott and his Arkestra. Perhaps there’s a need for them, and their message, to be heard again right now? To further add to that hallowed list we now we have this gem from Philly’s Sounds of Liberation, purveyors of “Black Liberation Music”.

Sounds Of Liberation were formed out of the Germantown and Mt Airy neighborhoods of Philadelphia in 1970/71. The group consisted of seven members: Khan Jamal (vibraphone), Byard Lancaster (alto saxophone/flute), Billy Mills (bass), Dwight James (drums), Monnette Sudler (guitar), Omar Hill (percussion), William Brister (percussionist, aka Rashid Salim). Errr…What’s that you say? Spiritual jazz with flute, vibes and two percussionists? Nice *grins*.

This 5 track release, “Unreleased”, follows Porter Records’ wonderful reissue of “New Horizons” aka “Sounds of Liberation” in 2010. All compositions, penned by Jamal, Lancaster and Sudler, have never been released before and have been prepared by group members, in collaboration with Peter “Max” Ochester of Philly’s Brewerytown Beats Records.

“Thoughts” kicks things off with Jamal plodding out a warm, sensitive, cosmic pattern and Sudler offering a simple slowhand melody in a fusion-stylee (a touch of the Sharrock’s) before Mills busies up a deep groove, the percussion steps it up and Jamal shimmers while Sudler shakes and pokes.

Latin heat comes the way of “Keno” a 3 minute 50, Ocho vs Malo step out with agile, slippery guitar, mesmeric dancing vibes and layered, power percussion. Hips required, por favor.

Next, an unexpected, but most appreciated, groovy psych rock gets it on, with the flute-throwing, hard-riffing “Sweet Evil Mist (Rib Crib)”. It’s the sort of fiery jam session that was an essential at trippy 60s festivals. The 6 keep it tight and high energy, with Mills driving it home HARD, as they let the flute and sax go off on extended ones, taking us out there and right back in there.

“Badi” is a goodi. Again, Mills drops a seriously deep one as the flute soulfully flutters and Sudler funks it up with a latin touch. Jamal then grabs hold of it for a while before morphing into a pretty exit theme led by the sweet, sweet flute.

The top and tailing, soulful vocal harmonies of the nearly 11 minute long final track, “New Horizon (Back Streets Of Heaven)”, lift us to that higher place. It’s joyous, spiritual, latin-infused, psych soul where everyone gets a chance to preach while tempos shift. Unsurprisingly, it’s all anchored by Mills’ ever reliable, almost totemic bass. And that’s yer lot.

Man that album felt short! It’s an exuberant and infectious shook-up bag of latin-enlivened, spiritual, funky psych soul jazz. With touches of Bobby Hutcherson, Sons and Daughters of Lite and Malo here and there, it’s less “serious” than the artists I mentioned at the top of the review but its variety of clashing, shaking, danceable rhythms make it an experience well worth having…not least because of the flute, vibes and two percussionists…oh, and after listening, the bass too.

Ian Ward