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Kairos Moment is the compelling debut album from saxophonist and composer Adam Waldmann and his quartet. Its mix of wistful, delicate, dreamy tunes (on which he plays tenor), busting vigour, generous melodic improvisation and ferocious grooves (on which he plays soprano) has been turning heads since it was posted on Waldmanns website earlier this year. In fact, Jazzwise Magazine cites Kairos Moment as an utterly charming debut and Waldmann as one of their favourite discoveries of 2009 . While his Wayne Shorter-ish tone is sumptuous, and playing imaginative, as a composer, Waldmann is precociously talented. His song-like pieces and enticing melodies are clearly written with his band in mind encouraging a collective spirit. As one critic summed up, Kairos 4tet is a team of equals responding to one another with unflagging inventiveness. Joining Waldmann is star bassist Jasper Høiby, drummer Jon Scott, and pianist Rob Barron, known for his work with Damon Albarn and Kanye West. The album also features the sweet flawless vocals of Swedish Emilia Martensson on Unresolved, undoubtedly one of the album s stand-out tracks.
Kairos Moment signals the arrival of a powerful new voice in British jazz, that of saxophonist Adam Waldmann. He and colleagues Jasper Høiby on bass, pianist Rob Barron and drummer Jon Scott comprise the Kairos 4tet, the ‘4’ presumably replacing the ‘quar’ in order to distinguish them from the celebrated contemporary German string ensemble the Kairos Quartett. Or the Washington-based string group the Kairos Quartet. Or the Californian world-jazz outfit the Kairos Quartet. You get the point.
Slightly unfortunate name aside, the quartet’s first album is extremely impressive. All the compositions are by Waldmann, a recent graduate of the Trinity College of Music’s jazz course, and provide an excellent vehicle for his confident improvisation. There is a big emphasis on grooves, often in unusual time signatures, recalling on more than one occasion those legends of modern British jazz, Perfect Houseplants, and, elsewhere, another of Waldmann’s influences, Avishai Cohen.
The 12 tracks cover a whole range of emotion, from the fiery upbeat grooves of Hymn for Her to the slowly energetic funk of Enough is Enough (Hotpocket). On the introspective Unresolved, the band is joined by singer Emilia Mårtensson, who also penned the lyrics. Unusually, this track is reprised at the end of the album in a shorter version, which is no bad thing as it is a real highlight. The quartet’s terrific interplay comes together on tracks like Russell’s Resurgence, with Waldmann’s soprano saxophone sometimes angular but always engaging.
Elsewhere, Waldmann’s Wayne Shorter-esque playing is backed intelligently and creatively by Barron’s versatile piano, ranging from subtle floating clouds to filthy grooves; and as ever, all complimented by the watertight engine room of the ceaselessly inventive Høiby and solid-as-a-rock Scott.
With their originality and creativity (not to mention chops), the future looks very bright for the Adam Waldman and the Kairos 4tet – one listen to Kairos Moment will tell you why. --Patrick Johns
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