Phronesis ‘Life to everything’ (Edition) 4/5

PhronesisCaught in live performance as part of the Jazz in the Round series, and more generally one of the participants in the annual London Jazz Festival, this excellent recording from November 2013 captures the very essence of this relatively new trio and it is the immediacy of sound that greets the listener upon hearing the music. Phronesis pride themselves on their ability to shift up or down a gear at will and thus it proves on the gentle, reposing intro to ‘Song for lost nomads’ that gradually unfolds into a stunning staccato-paced piece with lovely Latin vamp from pianist Ivo Neame. The trio interplay hints at classic Bill Evans on the emotionally charged number ‘Wings 2 the mind’ while on ‘Phraternal’ betrays the pianist’s love of mid-1960s acoustic Herbie Hancock. Some of the compositions have a quasi-classical feel as on ‘Deep Space Dance’ which starts off gently and then takes off onto an altogether higher tempo before reaching fever pitch. A definite highlight is ‘Herne Hill’ which after a slow intro, suddenly develops an engaging Latin vamp while it is the lightness of touch by Neame that is above all else transmitted on ‘Urban Control’. Melodic interplay between leader and bassist Jesper Holby and pianist Neame is a feature of the relaxing mid-tempo ‘Dr. Black’. Composing duties are equally divided between trio members. The high quality sound reproduction lends both an intimacy and vibrancy to the music that only enhances the listening experience. Produced by label head and fellow musician Dave Stapleton, this latest recording by Phronesis confirms their standing as one of the premier piano jazz trios on the block in Europe.

Tim Stenhouse