Nick Walters and The Paradox Ensemble ‘Implicate Order’ LP/CD (D.O.T.) 5/5

‘Implicate Order’ marks the new album release from trumpeter Nick Walters and his Paradox Ensemble.

While the release of another project by Walters along with the Paradox Ensemble is cause enough for celebration, ‘Implicate Order’ also comes with the distinction of being the inaugural project for D.O.T. Records – the newly formed label from Walters.

With such strong ties to 22a Records over the years – the record label home established by Ed ‘Tenderlonious’ Cawthorne and serving as home to the revered quartet, Ruby Rushton, of which both Walters and Cawthorne are members – the move to branch out on his own is a decidedly bold one but one that the noble reputation of Walters can absolutely justify.

With the Paradox Ensemble having released their debut recording as far back as 2013 through Efpi Records – ‘Entanglement’ presented an iteration of the ensemble that back then featured Yussef Dayes amongst the line-up on drums. The project was subsequently put on hiatus until resurfacing in fine fashion in 2019 with their sophomore album, ‘Awakening’. The time in between releases was certainly busy for Walters as work with the hip-hop and electronica inspired outfit, Ruby Rushton, continued to ever-ascending heights as well as work with the Beats & Pieces Big Band and Riot Jazz Brass Band. And almost exactly a year following the release of ‘Awakening’, 22a Records was again blessed with an exciting Nick Walters project in the guise of ‘Active Imagination’ – an album billed as a “free and spiritual journey into avant-garde jazz”.

That “spiritual” connection, as a theme, has permeated so much of the trumpeter’s and composer’s music. The Paradox Ensemble projects themselves seek such a high level of inspiration from Greek and Hindu philosophy while delivering compositions that beautifully merge Eastern styles with African grooves. Aesthetically, so much of the Paradox Ensemble’s compositions are, in fact, a paradox: with the aforementioned combination of cultures that seem to find new life when intertwined together, the group’s music is also enhanced by the inclusion of an accordion amidst the eleven-piece collective as well as a high level of electronics introduced within the evolving sonic soundscape which all adds up to delivering something truly unique and special.

The Paradox Ensemble is comprised of a real dream team of musicians that have proven to be frequent collaborators on past projects with Walters. The wonderful players on ‘Implicate Order’ include Rebecca Nash on piano, a horn section that includes Tenderlonious, Sam Healey, Richard Foote and Ben Kelly, guitarist Anton Hunter, Aidan Shepherd on accordion, Paul Michael on bass, Kodjovi Kush on percussion and drums by Jim Molyneux.

As previously stated, these artists certainly constitute no less than a dream team assembly of talent for a project that is just bursting with life. The music on ‘Implicate Order’ is an absolute joy – ‘The Underdog’, ‘Volta Region’ and ‘Be Seeing You’ are sensational and benefit from the inclusion of electronics as they help to plunge the compositions into somewhat more unpredictable territory. The longer ‘Diminishing Returns’ and ‘Implicate Order’ are more introspective in their approach and just as equally effective.

D.O.T. Records have launched with a gem of a project so we tip our hat to, both, the ever-evolving wonders of the Paradox Ensemble and the boundless possibilities of D.O.T. going forward.

Imran Mirza

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Nick Walters ‘Active Imagination’ LP/CD (22a Music) 5/5