Philip Clouts Quartet ‘Umoya’ (Odradek) 4/5

00 porta CD Aki def foto+traccia  copiaIf you like your jazz music to be strong on the groove and with a subtle infusion of world beats, then this excellent new recording from the Philip Clouts Quartet may well prove to be a revelatory experience. Born in South Africa, but from an early age resident in London, leader, pianist and composer Philip Clouts studied under renowned pianist and music lecturer Howard Riley at the Guildhall School of Music and further study with Bheki Mseleku helped to refine his sound. The waltz-like opener, ‘Lila’, is notable for the sweet sounding alto saxophone of Eagles, but it’s inspiration in fact lies in the trance-like gnawa music tradition of Morocco. Interestingly, there are hints of an all-acoustic Weather Report on ‘Dreamy Driving’ and here the change of pace within the piece is a joy to behold. Saxophonist Samuel Eagles, who has been mentored partly by former Jazz Messenger Jean Toussaint and studied at Trinity Music College, comes across as something of a latter day Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, and has already been featured as a leader in his own right for his debut album on the F-IRE label, ‘Next Beginning’. There is a subtle use of Afro-Beat drum patterns by drummer Dave Ingamells on ‘Walking in Starlight’ with Clouts reverting to electric piano for a more 1970s feel, and the bass line by Alex Keen is an especially compelling one. A slow burner of an album that gets better with repeated listens.

Tim Stenhouse