The big success story of 2007 and winner of the BBC Jazz Award for Album Of The Year returns with their much anticipated second release. "Post-jazz", "punk-jazz", "call-it-what-you-like-jazz", one thing's for sure, today's generation of mavericks are informed by jazz, but channel the energy of rock and the surging dynamics of dance music to create a new sound, and stretch the envelope further. At the vanguard of this new scene is The Neil Cowley Trio, whose 2006 debut 'Displaced' was released to huge critical acclaim from across the musical spectrum. This follow up album features Cowley's long-time collaborators Richard Sadler on bass and Evan Jenkins on drums. As the title suggests it is marked with energy, adrenalin and wit; an album of massive dynamic range and contrasts. Yet Cowley wears the "post jazz" label lightly. Neil expresses a wide gamut of emotions through his music, so there is often a sensitivity and romanticism to his compositions. Tracks: His Nibs / Dinosaur Die / Scaredy Cat / Ginger Sheep / Clumsy Couple / Captain Backfire / Well / We Are Here to Make Plastic / Synaesthesia Traffic / Streets Paved With Half Baguettes Pt 2.
This is the follow-up to Displaced, British pianist Neil Cowley's 2006 debut disc. It exudes a strong sense of the trio having strengthened a particular style, even if this involves a grafting of traits enjoyed by e.s.t. and The Bad Plus. The latter's anthemic tendencies gush all over His Nibs, providing this album opener with a sturdy, nay bullying, illustration of power trio potentiality. Like many others who are having their jazz cake and eating it, Cowley is cleverly laying his classicist moves over a driving rock beat, with drummer Evan Jenkins forever threatening a fully metronomic conversion. He's always slyly funking up, besides adding enough fidgety syncopation content, so that the hardcore beatniks don't become too alienated. It's a successful approach, as pedantic music critics are the only folks who will nowadays still insist on all of this compartmentalising for rock, jazz, funk et al.
Call this pomp-jazz, canny but not compromised. Cowley likes to hammer, in the frilly-cuff fashion. Dinosaur Die builds up a rising curve of repetitive minimalism, then Ginger Sheep decides on a knees-up vaudeville romp, like a Keystone Cops chase theme. The evocative images remain for Clumsy Couple, which is suitably ungainly, painting scenes of a faded ballroom triumph, now a decayed memory. We Are Here To Make Plastic is an agitated combination of Motörhead bonce-banging and the rippling player piano monomania of avant composer, Conlon Nancarrow. Cowley's very usage of the term 'trio' when naming his band suggests that he's quite happy to be viewed as a jazzman. Only the hoariest old relics from within that scene could possibly object to the unsuitability of either his compositions or his chops. --Martin Longley
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