Once again, not to sound overtly biased, but rarely can such an incredible lineup (K. Wheeler, N. Winstone, R. Towner, J. Taylor) produce anything less than a wonderful work, deceptively simple, yet with a quality that is very rare amongst todays' musicians - Jazz and World music included. What I most love about Azimuth is their similarity to Steve Reich and ECM bass pioneer Eberhard Weber's work with the use of repetitive motifs, but in a looser and smaller setting. Their compositions for the most part always approach the evocative rather than the technicalities of musicianship and composition. In addition to that, Ralph Towner joins them with his incredible, immensely delicate palette and sensitive approach to music. Towner's work needs no mention as he has been my all time favorite guitar player.
I've found that all of Azimuth's albums (not to be confused with their Brazilian counterpart Azymuth which I equally enjoy) have this textured complexity in their simplistic, almost minimalistic approach. The melodies and rhythmic interlockings just hold the listener in this suspended mood of some distant nostalgic whiff, or in this deeply contemplative impressionistic mood. I look forward to hearing more from them at some point and hopefully ECM will attempt to get Azimuth back together again. I do miss their work together.
On this cd, John Taylor's piano playing has this softness and beauty that is deeply evocative, and easily complements Norma Winston's unique talent to use her voice in such a rich, imaginative way. John's piano work definitely keeps the entire cd in a state of suspension once again, almost as if the music composed was as light as a bubble and could fly off somewhere to the horizon. Kenny Wheeler (trumpet), I find at times can be somewhat repetitive in some of his more familiar phrase endings but to my great surprise he consistently does a great job at always expanding the compositions with his sensitive melodic approach. Kenny Wheeler is one of those musicians that is able to consistently adapt in whatever setting and blend in and add his delicate yet strong melodic touches to whatever ensemble he's a part of- his style and sound I think have been a main contribution to the ECM sound. All in all, without a doubt, this album represents a winner for me that can be listened to over and over again. It is my favorite amongst all of the other Azimuth cd's.