Work Money Death is a large ensemble founded by two Leeds-based musicians, saxophonist Tony Burkill and bass player, Neil Innes. It’s actually a second outing for the group, who also performed on Burkill’s debut solo album from 2017, “Work Money Death”. “Work Money Death” (the album), although a good listen, was rather stylistically scatter-gun but this new release picks up where the last and stand-out track “Beginning And End” left off with a pair of lush spiritual jazz one-track sides.
Side one is “Dusk”, which begins with a vibe that’s reminiscent of Alice Coltrane’s “Journey In Satchidananda” with tanpura drones and a pensive repetitive bass motif. The intensity increases as Burkill’s sax improv moves from smooth to fiery, complemented by Adam Fairhall’s piano and builds to a free crescendo anchored by bass. The cohesiveness of the performance is all the more impressive when you learn that each musician recorded their part separately as the album was produced during the first lockdown of last year.
Side two. The exhilaration of “Dusk” passes to the mellowness and warmth of “Dawn”. Waves of shimmering ride cymbal becomes celebratory percussion and clapping from The Headingley Hand Choir tied to a repeating sliding bass pattern which continues to the end of the track. The gentle improvised sax pauses for a jubilant piano solo. Voices sing “Love is all I bring to you” like a mantra as the sound texture deepens with bass clarinet and flute.
The album features excellent performances and the tracks are beautifully arranged. In the current grim climate, I greet “The Space In Which The Uncontrollable Unknown Resides, Can Be The Place From Which Creation Arises” with open arms. A brief moment of positivity; listening to this album is a profound and joyous experience.