Kenny Warren Trio ‘In The Heat’ LP/CD (Whirlwind Recordings) 4/5

‘In The Heat’ marks the new release from Brooklyn-based trumpeter Kenny Warren and his Trio released through Whirlwind Recordings.

Before we go any further, I’d like to take a very quick moment to tip my hat to the fantastic achievements of Whirlwind Recordings. Not only has this year seen the London-based independent label celebrate their tenth year of releasing an exceptional array of contemporary jazz, but the exclamation point was also certainly cemented on that monumental “10” by ensuring that this year the label played host to some stunning releases like Michael Olatuja’s ‘Lagos Pepper Soup’, Jure Pukl’s ‘Broken Circles’ and Josephine Davies’s ‘How Can We Make?’, naming just a few of the projects that were bestowed upon the world.

Whirlwind has always had a penchant for the improvised and it’s a discipline that Kenny Warren practically celebrates throughout his album, ‘In The Heat’. Much like his previous release for the label – the Kenny Warren Quartet’s ‘Thank You for Coming to Life’ (2017) – Warren’s style is rooted within his ability to begin with a set-piece but still have the freedom to take the performance into unexplored territory while empowering his fellow players to take those same risks and creative freedoms.

Warren’s résumé is really something to marvel at – from the projects that position him as the bandleader to the extensive nature of his session work. Taking some of his other projects from just this year alone as an example sees Warren providing trumpet for singer/songwriter Scott Matthews’ ‘Adorned’ album as well as playing for the Webber/Morris Big Band project ‘Both Are True’. Kenny Warren’s skill has literally positioned him amidst such a wide variety of groups, styles and collectives that to see this minimal approach to his own projects is an inspired turn.

Comprising the trio for ‘In The Heat’ is drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell (Jake Leckie, Sebastien Ammann’s Color Wheel) and bassist Matthias Pichler (Manu Delago, Lorenz Raab Quartet) – both revered improvisers in their own right and both afforded with the creative space for this album to inspire new ideas and concepts.

Over the course of the album’s seven tracks, the trio performs beautifully together creating a musical environment that’s comfortable and a natural fit. ‘My Moments Subtle’ serves as the perfect introduction to the trio but also to the musicians as individual players; ‘Pen in Hand’ increases the pace with Pichler’s bass providing a real sense of urgency throughout (a real standout!) before the album’s centrepiece ‘Brain Phone Wired’. At just under fifteen minutes long, ‘Brain Phone Wired’ is glorious in its presentation as the musicians confidently explore the space around them, being playful at the right times while still delivering on their overall focus. It’s really an incredible performance to behold, particularly when experiencing it for the first time.

Apparently, the concepts for this album were created by Warren in his apartment from song titles that stemmed from the cut-up lines of a poem. I’d love to hear what the end-results of another apartment and another poem would bring, perhaps Whirlwind year #11 can make that happen?

Imran Mirza