Julian Siegel Quartet ‘Vista’ (Whirlwind Recordings) 4/5

Multi-reedist and leader Julian Siegel returns with the same rhythm section that recorded together in 2011 on ‘Urban Theme Park’, and this means a cooking collective of pianist Liam Noble, bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer, the energetic percussion work of American Gene Calderazzo. This new effort has a strong post-bop feel with Siegel, on tenor at least, sounding as though he has been influenced by the mid-1960’s work of Joe Henderson. In fact, this album is arguably the most varied to date, with a gentle nod to Brazil on the Latin-jazz number that begins the album, titled ‘The Opener’, with rim-drum effect, and this is followed up by a lovely piano and tenor duet on, ‘I Want To Go To Brazil’. Stan Getz may be evoked here, but it is certainly not another ode to bossa nova. Rather, Siegel has been checking out the all-time great singer, Elis Regina, and the multi-instrumentalist, Hermeto Pascoal. Tenor and saxophone combine on the post-bop hues of ‘The Claw’, which happens to be the longest piece by far, at nine minutes, and a fine way to end the album.

Siegel really comes into his own on soprano saxophone on the intricate and restrained ensemble performance of, ‘Pastorale’, which has a quasi-classical feel, while he excels on ballads of the calibre of ‘Song’, performing on a sparse tenor plus gentle rhythm section in reflective mood. Noble solos gently, displaying a love of the young Hancock in refined piano, and Julian Siegel really should think about devoting more time to the quieter numbers, and, perhaps, an entire album of ballads. Just one cover and a lovely take on Bud Powell’s ‘Un Poco Loco’, which Bobby Hutcherson made a superb version of for Columbia. Here, Siegel and the band take the number at a rapid tempo with a subtle evocation of the main theme before Noble enters delicately. By some distance, this is the most enjoyable Julian Siegel album to date, and with a lengthy March-April UK tour now underway, including Nottingham on 21 March, Stratford-upon-Avon on 28 March, and Birmingham Conservatoire on 26 April, this group is one of the hot acts to follow as spring arrives.

Remaining Tour Dates:
March 16th STOKE BY NAYLAND, Fleece Jazz Club
March 17th LUTON, The Bear Club
March 21st NOTTINGHAM Jazz House Bonington Theatre
March 28th STRATFORD UPON AVON, Stratford Arts House
April 12th CAMBRIDGE, Modern Jazz Club
April 14th SHREWSBURY Jazz Network, The Hive
April 15th BRISTOL Jazz at the Albert
April 26th BIRMINGHAM Conservatoire, Eastside Jazz Club
October 12th CHELTENHAM Cheltenham Jazz

Tim Stenhouse