B’s Bees ‘Kanata’ (Private Press) 4/5

Led by drummer Brandon Goodwin, “Kanata” is the third album from the Canadian outfit “B’s Bees”. Recorded following their recent US tour, this studio session also features regular band members bassist Alex Safy, pianist Joe Ferracuti and guitarist Julien Sandiford. The quartet becomes quintet with special guest Japanese saxophonist Masashi Usui, a musician who has been calling Montreal his home for several years now.

The album’s compositions are broken into two parts. The first half is Goodwin’s “Kanata Suite”, built around four pieces of music. The second half are the contributions by Ferracuti and Sandiford. It has to be said that regardless of who the writers are, it is very much the band’s own identity that marks the music out as something special, each of the musicians obviously having forged a near telepathic understanding with one another, this benefitting the writing and the performances.

Whilst there’s a clearly defined hard bop edge to this band’s music, it’s nice to hear a more exploratory feel to this recording, sometimes exquisitely delicate, and at other times fearlessly bold. This group is about as tight as they come, yet their groove and their rhythmic feel isn’t at all rigid. The sound and interaction feels organic, never forced, and it’s great to hear an album like this where everything just fits naturally together.

I love the edginess and quirkiness that rises to the surface on some of these tunes. There’s a theatrical feel to it, with a very strong and confident well written structure allowing for some mesmerising improv and soloing. I have to say I’m particularly impressed with saxophonist Masashi Usui, who I had not heard prior to listening to this release. His tone, sensitivity and uplifting solos remind me of an oft bygone era, maybe 40’s or 50’s New York sometime someplace.

A proper jazz album this one. A recording that is mindful of jazz’s rich history, whilst looking forward with energy and intelligence. Well worth listening to, uncomplicated and unpretentious, just great jazz.

Mike Gates