7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Given that half of this quartet, in pianist Ivo Neame and bassist Jasper Hoiby, make up Phronesis - you would think this might sound like that group or their work with Marius Neset. But this band is lead by Sax player Adam Waldeman, who stamps his impression on every track - although this is not with blazing sax solos - but rather with his subtle compositions and arrangements (helped by Jules Buckley).
This album intertwines 3 threads. So there are 4 songs with guest vocalists. Marc O' Reilly is in the mould of John Martyn, while Omar is his distinctive self and Emilia Martensson contributes high, ethereal vocals. These alternate with instrumentals written for the members of the band - where they are featured and the tune somehow evokes their personalities. The first track is for drummer Jon Scott, while "J-Ho from the Block" is for bassist Hoiby and "Finding Neamo" clearly refers to pianist, Ivo Neame. "Reunion" is all the musicians coming together.
There is also a third strand, which is "The 99" which appears in 4 parts and is a reference to the Occupy movement and the idea that 1% of the population own 99% of the wealth and that the rest of us : "The 99" suffer from the mistakes of a small minority. However - nothing in the music is overtly political and there is no attempt at promoting any such idea through the lyrics in any of the songs, which are very personal.
So we have a mixture of nicely-arranged Jazz instrumentals, which are melodic with some elements of free improvisation and group interaction. These are some of the best players on the UK scene and the standard is very high. But what makes this album stand out are the arrangements - all acoustic instruments - and the use of songs. Adam Waldemann and Jules Buckley create atmospheric arrangements for the songs, with a large variety of instruments, although piano tends to catch your ear.
The songs are in a vein of British folk singer/songwriters that has elements of acoustic Jazz - along the lines of Nick Drake and John Martyn. Marc O' Reily's voice is appropriate for this and even Omar sounds more folky than funky in his single appearance. It all works though and creates an interestingly varied album, that may not completely satisfy Jazz fans or fans of singer/songwriters - but for anybody with an open mind, this is high quality acoustic music that deserves a listen.
on 17 November 2013
SURELY the greatest crime for any creative musician is to stand still - to churn out more of the same, ad infinitum (which, it has to be said, some recording artists are content in doing)...
But not so, in the case of venturous sax player Adam Waldmann's `Kairos 4tet'. Since their highly promising 2009 debut, `Kairos Moment' and sparkling 2011 follow-up, `Statement of Intent', they have continued to push jazz frontiers to successfully forge a distinctive, progressive path for themselves.
With their third album, `Everything We Hold', Waldmann, as composer and player, again surrounds himself with his fellow luminaries from a buoyant contemporary jazz scene: Ivo Neame, one of the UK's finest pianists; the idiosyncratic, much-in-demand talent of Jasper Høiby on bass; and sparky, intuitive drummer Jon Scott. In addition, for this, their first release on Naim Jazz (Naim Label), the quartet has sensitively augmented their number with rich contributions from guest musicians and singers.
Bravely, yet so effectively, Adam Waldmann has chosen to expand on the idea of previous recordings by featuring a number of songs which widen out their jazz-rooted genre into a more soulful sound. Throughout this 53-minute excursion, as well as providing a change of pace from a clutch of exciting, new, characteristic Kairos instrumentals, this songwriting is of an exceptionally high standard, often leaning towards folksong. Waldmann suggests that melodies are "gifts that people can put in their pocket and carry around with them" - and these are indeed strong, memorable combinations of tunes and lyrics (words penned by actor acquaintance, Rupert Friend) which become just that: beautiful, emotive and warm keepsakes.
Emilia Mårtensson returns, creating a spine-tingling performance on the exquisite `Narrowboat Man', her meltingly-gorgeous tone and diction instantly recognisable here, as well as on other tracks. `Home To You' features the gravelly, Irish voice of Marc O'Reilly (with a hook that would equally be at home with Bruce Hornsby), as does the delicate love song, Ell's Bells. A chance meeting at the 2011 MOBO Awards (where the band won Best Jazz Act) resulted in the collaboration with acclaimed vocalist Omar Lye-Fook, who brings his deep, vocal presence to `Song For The Open Road' (impressively translating into an accompanying video). Waldmann seems to have carefully matched song to singer, so much so that each appear to have been specifically crafted for them.
The Kairos 4tet leader has also chosen to reward his longtime quartet colleagues with their own prizes - compositions in their name. So, the first of four interludes (`The 99′) is subtitled `Great Scott', with drummer Jon Scott providing a glimpse of the excellence to follow; 'J-Hø from The Block' celebrates the magnificence of bassist Jasper Høiby, showcasing his trademark percussive approach; and `Finding Neamo' provides Ivo with the excuse (as if!) to solo nimbly and brightly, also including an appealing deeply-meshed reeds riff. Waldmann presides, on both soprano and tenor, with customary improvisational fluidity, fearlessly exploring alternative keys within keys (always a delight!).
The ideas, textures and layers contained within this whole thoughtfully-programmed collection (plus bonus track downloads) are far too numerous to describe, but often it's the attention to fine detail which lifts this engaging recording to a higher level: the subtle use of shimmering harp (Tori Handsley); the accomplished string playing (an example being the wonderfully incisive portamento rise and fall which closes `Narrowboat Man', really crowning this song); confident, lyrical cello soloing from Ben Davis; and Ivo Neame's homely accordion and harmonium.
Recorded for the most part at Real World Studios, Somerset, Adam Waldmann's assembly of this diverse yet cohesive balance of accessible jazz is sure to garner a wider following, whilst continuing to enthrall current audiences.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2013
"Spellbinding instrumentals that blend high-calibre jazz improvisation with accessible melodies...a scintillating new opus" MOJO ****
"Bursting with dreamy, hummable melodic themes... this is easily Waldmann's best to date...hangs together beautifully in the way albums were always meant to" Jazzwise ****
"Waldmann's sensitivity to jazz dynamics and potential for improv remains sharp, as is his own sax-playing...Jules Buckley adds rich strings arrangements...very accomplished" **** THE GUARDIAN
" "the greatness of the album lies in how its varied elements come together so convincingly" **** THE TIMES
"Musically complex but melodically irresistible, the album is a winner from first to last...Waldmann plays with such lyrical expressiveness it's easy to forget he's not a vocalist too" (UK Metro)
A `beguiling mix of soulful jazz-folk songs and kinetic modern jazz' Jazzwise
"probably the best release I've heard this year...sublime" Culture Capital, Catherine Marks
"a clever and sensitive record" The Independent, ****
"..a deft, clever and engaging piece of work...channeling the spirits of Wayne Shorter, Nick Drake and Astor Piazolla into a compelling, haunting hybrid... moment(s) of exquisite beauty, a rather special piece of tightrope walking from Waldmann" Music OMH ****
"Kairos have created an album that seems set to increase their across the board appeal but without in any way compromising their artistic or political integrity. It's a pretty impressive feat and one that seems guaranteed to ensure that their star will continue to rise. " ****1/2 The JazzMann
"This album will charm you" **** York Press
"it's the attention to fine detail which lifts this engaging recording to a higher level...sure to garner a wider following, whilst continuing to enthrall current audiences." LondonJazz
"there are so few new jazz bands writing complex vocal tunes and this is the band that's doing it, and they're doing it so well...vocal melodies are beautiful as are the lyrics. Just Beautiful" Jamie Cullum
"Beautiful melodies" BBC 6 Music: Huey Morgan
"all the complexity and improvisational intent of a first-rate jazz ensemble, but the group's leader, saxophonist and composer Adam Waldmann, is clearly interested in more... It's a fine balance, but Waldman's deft arrangements of his own tunes, with lyrics by actor Rupert Friend, strike it perfectly" The Irish Times ****
"Everything We Hold is filled with these solid melodies and compelling hooks, the playing is exemplary, and the whole thing has a beauty and accessibility which should bring it a wide audience." The Jazz Breakfast
"Listening to the whole record in its entirety is a pleasure, so consider this my tip for the next set of Mercury Prize nominations." Jazz UK