Mezcla ‘Shoot The Moon’ CD (Ubuntu Music) 4/5

‘Shoot The Moon’ marks the debut recording by Glasgow-based outfit Mezcla now aptly aligned with the UK’s Ubuntu Music.

Headed up by bassist David Bowden, the project seeks to present the variety of styles and influences that have served as inspirations to him over the years – having studied jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Bowden also spent time studying in Amsterdam and Ghana and has since performed in venues and festivals across the UK and Europe including the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend and the 2018 London Jazz Festival.

It’s a real testament to the overall talent displayed throughout Mezcla’s ‘Shoot The Moon’ that a brief, in passing, encounter with Ubuntu Music’s Martin Hummel would quite quickly lead to the band signing with the label, home to such indelible talent like saxophonist Camilla George, pianist Andrew McCormack, trumpeter Quentin Collins and the newly-signed trumpeter James Copus.

‘Shoot The Moon’ is a project that finds itself very much at home amongst Ubuntu’s best and it’s incredibly easy to see why the label have greeted Mezcla with such enthusiasm – a contemporary jazz record that imaginatively intertwines elements of Latin as well as African rhythms over the course of the project’s nine tracks.

With Bowden naturally assuming bass duties throughout, the collective is further comprised of tenor saxophonist Michael Butcher, trumpeter Joshua Elcock, keys by Alan Benzie, guitarist Ben MacDonald, drummer Stephen Henderson and Steve Forman on percussion.

The album’s title track kicks off proceedings in incredibly vibrant fashion – the perfect introduction to the project’s cocktail of influences all seeming to burst out in ‘Shoot The Moon’. ‘Volta’ changes the album’s pace completely with its subtle build around the tag team of Forman’s percussion and Henderson’s drums before layering on Bowden’s bass then Benzie’s lush keys. It’s such a beautiful effect and song in general, exuding such warm textures that it really delivers the stand out number of the album. I could honestly listen to that opening minute and a half on a very long-running loop.

‘Dinosaur Jump’ again takes the energy into exciting and dynamic territory particularly in the song’s latter half which is a real joy; ‘Winter Walk’ and ‘Firefly’ deliver as further strong highlights – two songs that each take the time to deliver their own exquisite narratives before we arrive at the album closer, ‘Knockan Crag’, with its ethereal twists and turns delivered over its ten minute run time.

Expectations must have been high for Mezcla’s debut album after the attention they’ve garnered over the years so the exceptional quality of ‘Shoot The Moon’ must come with considerable pride for all involved.

Imran Mirza