Ivo Neame ‘Yatra’ CD (Edition) 4/5

Pianist Ivo Neame typifies the cosmopolitan nature of the London jazz scene and can call upon the long-term influences of John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler to inspire him, coming up with a fascinating new album on which his compositional skills are brilliantly showcased. For his latest project, an octet formation provides a lovely contrast with a four-piece brass section that features bass clarinet, clarinet, alto and tenor saxophones and flute. This is wonderfully illustrated on the piece ‘American Jesus’ with a lovely flute solo and the accompaniment of vibes, performed by none other than Jim Hart, a fine leader in his own right. Post-bop hues predominate, yet this not necessarily mean an absence of a clearly defined structure. Far from it. The hustle-bustle of the title track opener betrays an underlying quasi-tango rhythm with the vibes to the fore and some solid reed work from Tori Freestone who doubles up on tenor and flute, and an expansive solo on piano from Neame. A gentler side to the group repertoire is exemplified on the intimate ballad, ‘That Syncing Feeling’, with a haunting clarinet solo and some fine bass work. On ‘Unseen Coracle’ there are even shades of mid-1960s Blue Note Bobby Hutcherson – a fine vehicle for Jim Hart on which to shine. Neame takes a secondary role in terms of soloing but can demonstrate a freer approach, taking on board the influence of Craig Tayborn on the altogether looser piece ‘Owl of Me’ with hints of Nina Rota underneath which makes for a fine juxtaposition of styles. In short Ivo Neame is a fine bandleader who is willing to subsume his own leader’s role to the greater good of the octet and the definite winner in this endeavour is the listener.

Tim Stenhouse

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