Sam Newbould ‘Bogus Notus’ CD (ZenneZ) 4/5

‘Bogus Notus’ marks the new album release from saxophonist Sam Newbould and his Amsterdam-based Quintet. Initially having introduced themselves through their debut album ‘Blencathra’ in late-November 2019, the sophomore effort arrives in relatively quick succession, a mere sixteen months later. Hailed for its innovative concepts and distinctive approach, the album proved to be a strong success raising expectations for where Newbould and company would take their music next.

Originally brought up in the north of England – a fact that proves a heavy influence on the overall theme and direction of ‘Bogus Notus’ – before his studies took him to Berlin and, later, to the Netherlands by way of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. With his roots now firmly in place, Newbould has solidified his position amongst a thriving musical soundscape with no shortage of world-class talent in which to surround himself with.

Which takes us to the players comprising Sam Newbould’s Quintet – a revered selection of European talent including tenor saxophonist Bernard Van Rossum (Vuma Levin, Julian Schneeman), pianist Youngwoo Lee (Youngwoo Lee Quartet, Sunmi Hong Quintet), drummer Guy Salamon (Guy Salamon Group, Jasper Blom), bassist Daniel Nagel (WELS), and of course rounded out by Newbould on alto saxophone. The album further benefits from a series of guest musicians from trumpeter Ian Cleaver, guitarist Billy Marrows and Frederico Calcagno on bass clarinet.

As alluded to earlier, ‘Bogus Notus’ seeks its inspiration from Newbould’s years growing up in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s an album that strives to capture the stark contrast of these beautiful surroundings while also addressing the somewhat harsh restrictions that come along with them.

‘Left Side of the Cove’ delivers as a fantastic opener with Youngwoo Lee’s sombre piano introducing proceedings before allowing the remaining players to slowly develop the song by adding their respective layers around him resulting in a real injection of energy by the song’s midway point. ‘Concrete Caterpillar’ serves as another album highlight with its uncompromising drums and stabbing horns, while Beth Aggett excels through her vocal contribution to ‘Song for Annie’ bringing an elegant folk-esque aesthetic to the noir jazz arrangement.

Released through the independent Netherlands-based label, ZenneZ Records, Sam Newbould is very much a perfect fit for the label’s expansive vision for contemporary jazz. Boasting an ever-increasing roster of artists including names like the Millennium Jazz Orchestra, Zapp4, S’Yo Fang and Rose Ellis, ZenneZ consistently strives to celebrate a broad range of styles like “fusion to modern creative, jazz-rock to world/global, funky groove to vocal”. And through his inventive perspective, and some world-class musicians, Newbould’s ‘Bogus Notus’ helps to set ZenneZ’s year off to a strong start.

Imran Mirza