Julian Argüelles ‘Tetra’ (Whirlwind) 4/5

julian-argüellesLoose Tubes alumni Julian Argüelles is a busy man. As a leader he is currently fronting an exciting quartet comprising pianist Kit Downes, double bassist Sam Lasserson and drummer James Madren. This all original set was inspired by a visit to Portugal and Spain, hence the impressionistic visions that the leader has created. A famous Iberian riff that is in fact a north-western Spanish folk song in ‘Asturias’ begins in earnest after a lengthy drum intro when the main theme suddenly emerges. Thereafter, the listener is taken on a tenor saxophone and piano excursion into deepest Spain. This writer especially liked the polyrhythms deployed. Another lovely piece is the staccato rhythm of ‘Hurley Burley’ and here features some intense soprano work from Argüelles. Meditational themes permeate the album with the meandering ten and a half minute ‘Nitty gritty’ a fine illustration with lyrical vamping from Downes and then a lengthy solo while the rest of the rhythm section accompany gently. At times Argüelles come across as a composite of Charles Lloyd and Wayne Shorter and it is the former who is evoked on the spiritually uplifting and soulful ‘Yada Yada’ with drum beats that keep the piece on edge. This working quartet has operated collectively for the last three years and an integral part of the winning formula is the individual chemistry between leader and pianist. The two combine on a reflective number, ‘Hocus pocus’, that gradually builds up a head of pace and bass and drums head off on an inventive lyrical adventure. A fine recording, then, all round. A recent UK tour has taken place in late October and early November.

Tim Stenhouse