Stonephace Stabbins ‘Transcendental’ (Noetic) 4/5

Multi-reedist Larry Stabbins was one of the pivotal figures in the 1980s jazz dance scene as a founding member of Working Week who recorded the anthemic ‘Venceremos’. He returns here with a band that is in its nucleus part of Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra with, among others, the excellent Zoe Rahman on piano. Stabbins was influenced in his youth by the playing of John Coltrane and in particular an album he bought of the saxophonist, ‘Africa Brass’. This serves as the inspiration for much of the music contained within which has a modal feel as on the lovely ‘Noetic’ with bass riff, piano comps and some fine tenor from the leader. Larry Stabbins alternates between saxophone and flute and on the latter he excels on the brief ‘Immanence’ and the inventive Latin jazz interpretation of the famous film score of The yellow brick road’ which is taken here in 7/4 time as an Afro-Cuban piece with a creative rapport between piano and flute. Stabbins has a distinctive sound on tenor, especially at a higher pitch and this is illustrated in the intro to the opener ‘Africa’ which quickly settles into a percussive groove with fine modal-influenced piano from Rahman. If the music is not always immediate here, it certainly grows with repeated listens and there is a good deal bubbling just under the surface which is always a good sign. Hopefully a live manifestation of this band will surface at some point. Tim Stenhouse