The British alto saxophonist Peter King's playing is firmly rooted in the bebop idiom and he is recognized as one of the UK's leading jazz musicians. He is also a masterful composer and on `Janus', King takes on the challenge of writing for jazz and string quartet.
`Janus' features the Peter King Quartet with Gordon Beck on piano and the Lyric String Quartet, recorded live at the Purcell Room in 1997. The Janus suite applies the influences of Bartok's rhythms, folk melodies and harmonies to jazz composition and the Lyric String quartet plays superbly both in their solo sections and during the passages when they are scored with the jazz group. King's rhythmic writing means that the strings add texture and line without interfering with the improvisations of the rhythm section and soloists.
In addition to the five movements of Janus, the album is completed with three originals, featuring the musicians of King's quartet without the strings, and which demonstrate what a superbly integrated group it is. Alan Barnes in his liner notes sums up the album when he says "this recording is surely Peter King's masterpiece."
Personnel: Peter King - alto & soprano saxophone, Gordon Beck - piano, Jeremy Brown - bass, Stephen Keogh - drums,
Lyric String Quartet: Patricia Calnan - violin, Harriet Davies - violin, Nick Barr - viola, Dave Daniels - cello.
(4 stars) ...investigate without demur, if nothing else for King's fiery effusions and Beck's rampages at the keyboard. Stunning. -- Jazzwise, (Peter Vacher), February 2007
(4 stars) The five movements swing ceaselessly, with King's alto crying out like a voice in the wilderness. -- The Independent, (Phil Johnson), November 26, 2006
The passionate saxophone improvisation and the ever-changing sonorities of the strings make a combination that repays endless listening. -- The Observer, (Dave Gelly), December 3, 2006