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Adrian Pallant

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Songbook
Songbook
Offered by Roomspin Records
Price: £15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The sign of something artistically and emotionally significant – a classic, 28 July 2017
This review is from: Songbook (Audio CD)
Those moments when, no matter how much of a lifetime’s river of music has passed under the bridge, the eyes involuntarily well up and an electrical impulse charges down the spine… they can only be the sign of something artistically and emotionally significant.

A project which originated in 2013 and has since toured a number of times, 'Songbook' is the work of double Grammy award-winning pianist, composer and arranger Alan Broadbent and sublime vocalist and lyricist Georgia Mancio. A chanced-upon opportunity to perform together, as a duo, blossomed into a magical songwriting collaboration, with Broadbent revealing more and more of his existing instrumental compositions for Mancio to complete with imaginative, poetic storytelling. Their mutual enthusiasm for Great American Songbook writers such as Rodgers and Hart cemented a creative, thematic empathy which shapes this album of twelve new songs with unique beauty and warmth – so much so that, consequently, each one has a ‘timeless standard’ identity redolent of, say, Cole Porter or Jerome Kern.

Supported by the subtly-nuanced and precise rhythm section of double bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Dave Ohm, the finesse of Broadbent’s piano and Mancio’s immaculately controlled voice sparkle throughout with expressions of joy, humour, tenderness and melancholy. Alan Broadbent’s lush arrangements (having worked on a larger scale over the decades with the likes of Irene Kral, Woody Herman, Natalie Cole and Diana Krall) are just as eloquent in this chamber setting.

Georgia Mancio enfolds each episode of this collection with both technical security and, just as importantly, an obvious affection. She possesses one of the most inviting, endearing voices on the current scene, illuminating The Journey Home's soft swing with clarity and elegance, then adding pizzazz to shuffling bossa tune Someone’s Sun; and Broadbent’s chordal and melodic deftness complements the vocal shaping magnificently. The Last Goodbye – the first composition presented to Mancio – is brightly wistful, as is Cherry Tree which charmingly portrays the tapestry of life (reflected in Simon Manfield’s front and back cover illustrations, and also in Alan Broadbent’s exquisite ornamentation). Each track becomes a favourite, Small Wonder‘s succinct lyrics making way for blue-sky piano trio delicacy; and One for Bud celebrates a passion for Bud Powell with a brisk be-bop delivery from Mancio which would be at home in any classic song-and-dance movie (“I went to work – 9 to 5. I concentrated on the boss and his jive. His patter and zeal held no inch of appeal compared to Bud.”).

Hide Me From the Moonlight‘s emotional weight is superb, its descending/ascending chromatics and tenuti making it a romantic stand-out. Heartwarming, ‘Que Sera, Sera’-style Forever is Mancio’s playful take on life, concluding with “One day you find that you have all the answers but nobody asks you the questions”; and ease-back Close to the Moon might easily have been in Sinatra’s repertoire. Where the Soft Winds Blow blithely sails to a memorable melody written by a 17-year-old Alan Broadbent; chattering calypso Just Like a Child‘s slick, rhythmic vocal could be central to a much-loved musical; and serene Lullaby for MM (Broadbent, here, writing to Mancio’s personal dedication to her late father) somehow evokes the touching reminiscences of Michel Legrand.

There’s the sense of an hour standing still with this recording (skilfully produced by Andrew Cleyndert), such is its affecting dedication to craft – and certainly a highlight of 2017 so far. As just one of many attractive lines states: “I see life through your eyes and take first prize”.


Engraved Slate House Number Plaque - 1 to 99. Same Day Dispatch!
Engraved Slate House Number Plaque - 1 to 99. Same Day Dispatch!
Offered by Atlantic Hardware Ltd
Price: £19.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted and a classic look, 7 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Pondered quite a few options for this at Amazon – and am delighted with the outcome. It's solid, thick, and well-finished; and the incised, white-painted numerals are clear. Drill holes are not quite perfectly aligned to the horizontal, but even with my designer's eye, it's not an issue. If the seller could improve on this, even better. Screwing into the supplied rawlpugs, it was a little tricky to get the 'bite' – but now fixed, it's absolutely rock solid and the polished dome caps are a nice finishing touch. A courteous email firstly double-checked the house number required, followed up by a despatch advice email – and delivery was super-fast. Very pleased.


The Lightning Bell
The Lightning Bell

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep, improvisatory expressions make this a compelling experience, 6 July 2016
This review is from: The Lightning Bell (Audio CD)
The improvisatory music of guitarist/pianist Charlie Beresford and cellist Sonia Hammond, in 2014 album 'The Science of Snow', came as something of a revelation. Arising quite simply from a cancelled studio booking, the duo proceeded to use the time to create an enticing, spontaneous sequence of artistic impressions which had the ability to conjure visual imagery in a spacial and often affecting way.

For new release 'The Lightning Bell', Beresford and Hammond collaborate with classical, prog rock and improv pianist Carolyn Hume; and singer Judie Tzuke guests on two tracks, complementing Charlie Beresford’s own vocal contributions (Tzuke’s 1979 chart hit 'Stay With Me Till Dawn' remains a spine tingler). Once again, this is original music which somehow transports mind and soul to another place, where the freedoms of improvisation are able to connect with the emotions so surprisingly. On the surface, these abstract soundscapes could be perceived as dark, sombre spaces – yet beneath lies bohemian beauty resulting from a meeting of creative spirits at one moment in time. The title is derived from an 18th Century device which demonstrated, albeit simply, the conversion of an electrical charge into mechanical energy – the movement of a clapper between two oppositely-charged bells to create sound.

The introduction of improvised, sung phrases into some of this album’s eight, expansive tracks brings a further instrumental dimension, rather than apparent, specific meaning. Beresford’s utterances in slowly drifting opener 'Call the Time' add to a sultriness vaguely redolent of Gershwin’s 'Summertime', as he whispers across sustained cello, diminished piano elaborations and abstract guitar; and the addition of Judie Tzuke’s recognisable, mellow tones in 'Then the Cloud Comes' contribute to a vivid, overcast landscape, with Hammond’s cello scratching the sky and Beresford’s persistent, wiry guitar tremblings accentuating Hume’s rainy piano.

As with the first release, the music here is often on a filmic scale – 'Feather War Cast’s openness and unpredictability, across almost ten minutes, allows the imagination to run free; a combination of melodic, pitch-bent guitar extemporisations across sustained, English contemporary classical piano and cello, interspersed with extraneous knocks and scrapes. 'The Heavy Branch' is particularly indicative of deep bell clangs and chimes as Hammond’s sinuous cello harmonics meld effectively with Beresford’s clever, echoic guitar purrs – and Carolyn Hume’s Debussyian piano depth (à la 'The Sunken Cathedral') emphasises its humidity.

Fascinating, if a little disturbing, 'Laid Bare‘s darting guitar glissandi and slippery, whistling harmonic cello become clothed in delicate, skylit piano; and pastoral, melancholic 'As If All Was Within', with subtly chattering guitar strings on frets, is ornamented by the soft, folky words of Charlie Beresford. Judie Tzuke’s vocals provide 'In the Dark Hours' with a more songlike feel, though its references to insomnia and nightmare bring a chill to the sparse instrumental weave; and 'The Last Port' concludes – perhaps the darkest, most menacing film-score episode of the entire album.

These are deep expressions, yet the imagery and emotion triggered by the sincerity of such artistic improvisation can make this a compelling experience.


Pauper & The Magician
Pauper & The Magician
Price: £13.21

5.0 out of 5 stars Dynamic jazz storytelling, 4 Mar. 2016
This review is from: Pauper & The Magician (Audio CD)
It appears that US drummer and composer Ari Hoenig’s creativity isn’t confined to the stage and the recording studio. His mostly original music on this eighth release as leader, The Pauper & the Magician, is inspired by the improvised stories he tells to his two small children – specifically, a tale of “a powerful, dark sorcerer who, in a moment of weakness and boredom, passes on his book of evil magic to a pauper.”

Part of the New York scene for almost twenty years, Philadelphia-born Hoenig has contributed to the line-ups of Joshua Redman, Chris Potter and Mike Stern (to name but a few) and has appeared with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis and Gerry Mulligan. His colleagues on this quintet recording are guitarist Gilad Hekselman, tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott, pianist Shai Maestro and bassist Orlando le Fleming.

Hoenig’s musical storytelling here is dynamically potent, possessing a distinct aura of fable and mysticism characterised by his propulsive prog-tinged writing and the band’s colourful jazz improvisations; and the drummer’s own ornamented techniques impressively bind the multifarious elements together without dominating. Indeed, the album’s five ‘chapters’ (along with an affectionate, closing ‘goodnight kiss’ track) are spacious enough to slowly unravel their mysterious, shifting storylines. Thus, opening title track The Pauper & the Magician, at almost ten minutes’ duration, weaves a downward-spiralling motif, as if descending into an unknown kingdom, buoyed by mischievously-dancing tenor and piano, Hekselman’s subtle wah-wah rhythms and Hoenig’s perpetually intricate percussion.

I’ll Think About It‘s initial sprightliness conjures big-band swing, though all the while the adventure twists and turns through darker, searching passageways, only to be illuminated again by the strong daylight of rippling piano, jaunty sax-and-guitar riffs and the indubitable flair of Hoenig’s crisp execution. Central to these 46 minutes is the eastern-inflected drama of The Other, its edge-of-seat energy glinting with rapid jazz brilliance. Here, Shai Maestro’s effusive piano dances over the flamboyance of bass and drums as Hekselman and Pennicott share complex, whirling lines; and the relentless anthemic progression confirms the album’s folktale basis.

The particular echoic delicacy of Gilad Hekselman’s guitar style is to the fore in Lyric – a calming jazz interlude whose tender melody (redolent, at times, of Weather Report) is embellished by Pennicott’s tenor phrasing, yet also punctuated by snappy rhythmic flashes from Hoenig’s precise, multi-timbred battery; and Alana is similarly luxurious, Pennicott’s pellucid piano and the measured vibrato of Pennicott’s tenor providing an end-of-journey feel-good. And that ‘goodnight kiss’? Well, Jimmie Davis’ familiar You Are My Sunshine (which might otherwise feel incongruous) cheerily plays out amidst Hoenig’s softly-malleted kit and a generally jaunty jazz demeanour until ‘lights out’.

By turns dramatic and ambrosial, it’s to be hoped that Ari Hoenig might reveal further jazz chronicles of this calibre.


Amorandom
Amorandom
Price: £12.03

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'May well become one of the finest jazz trio albums you’ll hear this year., 4 Mar. 2016
This review is from: Amorandom (Audio CD)
Displaying a distinctly oblique yet beautifully affecting jazz sensibility, Finnish pianist and composer Aki Rissanen’s Amorandom defines ‘the piano trio’ afresh in an album which effervesces with both spontaneity and unpredictability.

Rissanen originally conceived this music, a few years ago, as a soundtrack for respected Finnish animator, Antti Peränne. Yet, in its final form – and brought to life by colleagues Antii Lötjönen (double bass) and Teppo Mäkynen (drums) – it stands in splendid isolation as an absorbing, sit-up-and-listen release full of invention, atmosphere… and startling technique. Following a distinguished progression of classical and jazz education, the pianist has steadily been developing his international career as sideman/leader (recording with the likes of Dave Liebman, Randy Brecker and Michael Gibbs); and now, this collection – described as his major international debut – confirms Nordic jazz of lucid intelligence fired by an unquenchable, crackling spirit.

From the outset, Pulsar begins to reveal what it is that sets this trio apart – arresting, repeated piano figures (imagine Reich, Glass) and deeply-plumbed notes; relentless, skittering impetus; sudden, ‘deafening’ calm. Jangling, atonal freedom in For Rainbows becomes animated through broken piano chords and crisp bass/percussion; and Passages Pas Sages creeps icily to rapid, dull toms and expansive piano, the trio’s innate sense of intensifying exploration continually unveiling fresh expression and interest. Aleatoric grooves to Rissanen’s rich chordal depth and joyously rippling soloing (the piano detail is stunning, with Lötjönen and Mäkynen such an integral part of its make-up); and delicately ornamented étude, Signettes, demands close attention.

A woody clarinet resonance is imaginable in the carefree, piano-octave swing of For Jimmy Giuffre – such a precise yet blithe trio performance all round. Rissanen’s growling keyboard vigour in virtuosic solo miniature Eye-Opener might equally suggest Ginastera or Gwilym Simcock, its brevity neatly leading into the dramatic swirl of Bird Vision (maybe Charlie Parker is the inspiration) which bounces of the walls with reveille-car-horn motif and jarring block-chord energy, as well as Lötjönen’s wonderfully propulsive jazz/rock-fusion bass and Mäkynen’s scintillating percussion. And, to close, title track Amorandom carries the emotive, crescendoing, piano-led yearning associated with Esbjörn Svensson – a depth of musicality which indicates that this might just be the beginning of this partnership’s long and productive journey.

The jazz piano trio format exists in many guises as an enduringly powerful, creative and emotional environment – and Rissanen, who enjoys the variety and eclecticism of all of the projects he’s involved in, humbly (and surprisingly) alludes to a mild concern that there are “too many good trios around and everything has been done before.” WAIT a minute! Put this album through a responsive sound system, and it may well become one of the finest you’ll hear this year. Outstanding.


Groove Travels
Groove Travels
Price: £12.03

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groooove onnnn!, 14 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Groove Travels (Audio CD)
The stature of this grooooving big band release from trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer Gerard Presencer has been building, for me, across a period of weeks – and now blazes in all its glory.

A cursory listen might suggest ‘light’ or ‘smooth’ jazz – which, on a surface level, could be understandable. But when the abundant arrangements and instrumental precision contained within these 53 minutes firmly take root, Groove Travels begins to blossom into an impressive big band album for the here and now, infused with collected world rhythms and sumptuous, often striking harmonic detail. London-born Presencer’s credentials, over the years, boast a raft of big names (including work with Stan Tracey, Herbie Hancock, Clark Tracey, Johnny Dankworth, Chick Corea, Charlie Watts, Peter King) and he identifies the big band environment as “an inspiring and nurturing place to meet and play for improvising musicians.”

With all that strength of experience, Gerard Presencer absorbs the subject of this album at will, his international journeyings capturing the cultural grooves that form the bases of these extended works. On this, his fourth solo album, the majority are his original compositions; but he and the Danish Radio Big Band (with whom he has established a fruitful working relationship over a number of years) also throw oblique light on Wayne Shorter, Lennon & McCartney and Billy Nichols (if you’re struggling with that last one, begin recalling the 1970s chart hits of Leo Sayer!).

The leader’s interpretations of ‘groove’ are remarkably varied – from spacious, slow-burning Another Weirdo (which provides the ground for his mellifluous, echoic flugelhorn extemporisations) to the stateside funk-drive of Blues for Des, where superb canonic horn cascades accompany Shorteresque tenor fluidity and that unmistakable flugel mobility; nine minutes which brim with restless vigour and more than a hint of Freddie Hubbard. A soft bossa – Ballad or Tango of the Misunderstood – is characterised by the sublime, dreamy rise and fall of dazed horn textures (though with a somewhat abrupt closing fade), whilst Devil’s Larder‘s bold guitar riff is accentuated by Hammond and fabulous sax ensemble work, frequently hitting a dazzling saturation of colour – certainly a cinematic big band thriller.

In selecting and arranging Lennon & McCartney’s familiar Eleanor Rigby, any immediate impression of muzak is quickly dispelled by its infectious, ticking momentum; and Presencer’s voluble flugel is enhanced by jabbing Fender Rhodes, George Benson-style guitar and waves of gutsy brass. Istanbul Coffee Cup‘s mysteriously rhythmic pulse (noted down in a restaurant in the Turkish capital) oscillates dramatically with swirling, cacophonous brilliance, whilst Wayne Shorter’s evergreen Footprints evokes, here, the San Francisco streetscapes of Ironside and Kojak through its myriad horn dissonances, rasping trombone clusters, clattering percussion and luxurious solo lines.

And that top ten hit? – well, for all hopeless romantics out there, I Can’t Stop Loving You meltingly ebbs and flows to Presencer’s soft trumpet lead and richly-conceived harmonies, elevating it high above its trite, teen-crush origins (plus a self-declared nod to the great Kenny Wheeler at its close).

Dig into the detail of this album, and the combined eloquence of Gerard Presencer and the Danish Radio Big Band becomes increasingly evident.


Umoya
Umoya
Price: £7.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Catch the sunshiny, South-African-imbued zest of 'Umoya'!, 6 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Umoya (Audio CD)
It has to be the innate South African rhythm of life that Philip Clouts possesses which marks out his quartet albums with such sunshiny zest.

Born in Cape Town, and resident of the generally balmier UK region of West Dorset, the pianist/composer’s approach is typically melodic, straight-ahead and high-spirited. Following up his Hour of Pearl album of 2013, the Umoya title of this latest release is a Zulu word for ‘life force’, confirming that accessible joie de vivre in his performances; and to the rhythm section of Alex Keen (electric bass) and Dave Ingamells (drums), he invites young saxophonist Samuel Eagles – who impressed with his own debut album – to add considerable upfront sparkle.

So, certainly a jazz album, generously filled with memorable hooks and broad improvisation… but these eight tracks are also unquestionably infused with alluring ‘world’ grooves which seem to find their way so readily into Clouts’ compositions, and which are central to their attraction. Title track Umoya is the perfect illustration, its clarity and apparent simplicity actually paving the way for bright, syncopated rhythms which might recall Chris McGregor or Dudu Pukwana, as Samuel Eagles’ elongated phrases intertwine with Clouts’ own lucid solo lines and endearing block chord triplet sequences.

Dreamy Driving catches the imagination – a musically colourful journey taking in contemporary riffs, oases of calm and ear-pricking textural combinations held together by the mobility of Alex Keen’s electric bass; and Taranto‘s work/folk influence is heightened by Eagles’ Italianate inflections and Clouts’ vigorously cascading sequences.

Walking in Starlight‘s cool sidewalk nonchalance is created out of Keen’s unhurried bass and Clouts’ softly-jabbing electric piano, whilst Dave Ingamells’ momentum and crisp detail here are typical of his pervading presence throughout these 50 minutes or so. Perhaps it’s the Joe Sample-style keys here – reminiscent of Street Life – which bring the tantalising realisation that so many of Clouts’ melodically strong compositions cry out for a vocal line (his father was a South African poet); one can only imagine the potential vivacity – not to mention beauty – of such a project!

Direction South pays direct homage to the music of the pianist’s birth land in a joyous, Abdullah Ibrahim-like gambol; Amor possesses a contrasting restlessness, Eagles’ mysterious soprano sax deliciously weaving around Clouts’ ostinato undercurrent, occasionally hitting a hard-driving rock pulse; and the bright, lurching gospel/blues of Meandering is pounced upon by Eagles, his swooning modal explorations especially attractive.

There are certainly grittier, edgier experiences out there – but this is a life-affirming, musically-accomplished album to relax into (and, I dare say – when the sun deigns to reappear – to pop a cork to!).


Stardust
Stardust
Price: £13.57

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful. 'Like inviting Stan and Nikki into your living room!, 25 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Stardust (Audio CD)
In many ways – and in the right, focused moment – the carefree eloquence and clear conversational flow of new duo album Stardust speaks volumes about the absolute empathy and trust shared by two stellar British jazz performers.

Career highlights, to date, of saxophonist Stan Sulzmann and longtime friend and colleague pianist Nikki Iles might keep you Googling and scrolling for some time. But here, all of that glittering experience is channelled into the most intimate of musical environments – an unadorned, hour-plus dialogue between tenor sax and piano. And it’s beautiful.

Sulzmann and Iles each offer one original work, with their compositional ‘guests’ including Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin, Burt Bacharach; and, above all, it’s the improvisational and harmonic elegance – frequently illuminating familiar, timeless melodies across acres of space – which is to be revelled in.

Classic Body & Soul is wonderfully luxurious here, with Stan’s rich tenor momentarily having us believe he’s also picked up alto or clarinet, such is the diversity of his range and timbres. Gershwin’s impassioned, drawling My Man’s Gone Now (from Porgy & Bess) is translated into a more measured blues as Sulzmann’s extemporisations cascade down through Iles’ delicious major/minor chords, characteristic sequences of fourths and delicate high lines; and initially echoing the restrained wistfulness of Bill Evans, Young and Foolish increasingly sparkles to Stan’s mellifluous tenor invention, as does the irrepressible optimism of I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry (away from the sentimentality of its Sinatra/Riddle association). And this nine-track treasury can also dance, with Jerome Kern’s Nobody Else But Me putting on a sprightly, swinging show.

Sulzmann’s references to Evans’ Some Other Time and Peace Piece can be heard in Nikki’s Corner – an affectionate, buoyant tribute to his pianist; and Iles reciprocates with Under The Canopy (from The Printmakers’ Westerly release of 2015), its warm, falling and rising melodies inviting Sulzmann to glide broadly and effortlessly across the pianist’s gentlest of samba rhythms. A perhaps lesser-known Bacharach tune, You’ll Never Get To Heaven, unveils its lyrical beauty with an especially limpid piano interlude; and the concluding title track arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael couldn’t be more lucid, delicate or assured.

Stardust is not so much a meteor shower spectacular, but rather a delightfully reassuring, crystal-encrusted, dark-sky panoply. And as you fix your attention, it magically reveals subtler, coruscating constellations.


Homes - Gilad Hekselman
Homes - Gilad Hekselman
Price: £15.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Versatile signature guitar sound, and a great 'immersion' album, 21 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Homes - Gilad Hekselman (Audio CD)
Based at the heart of New York’s jazz scene, the flourishing reputation of Israeli electric/acoustic guitarist and composer Gilad Hekselman has found him playing alongside artists such as John Scofield, Avishai Cohen, Ari Hoenig and Tigran Hamasyan; and worldwide tours have taken in Montreux, Montreal and North Sea jazz festivals.

Fifth solo release, Homes, is an especially crystalline trio recording, the crisp, often delicate openness of Hekselman’s technique shared by longtime band colleagues Joe Martin (bass) and Marcus Gilmore (drums), with Jeff Ballard guesting on two numbers. There’s a distinct craft to the guitarist’s style; not the solid, upfront soloing of John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth or Mike Stern, but predominantly a more measured, mobile and understated delivery which needs careful attention – no bad thing. And this more dialogous approach turns the key on the album’s title, a suite of twelve pieces reflecting Hekselman’s physical, geographic, musical and spiritual homes.

Such a sense of reflection is echoed in occasional, sparse miniatures which contrast with Hekselman’s otherwise broad, colorfield canvases (classically-tinged opening title track Homes is a mere 37 seconds’ duration). Indeed, this outing feels like a promenade through a virtual gallery, as the trio create a range of sizes, textures and atmospheres. Verona intimates the romantic influence of this Italian ‘Romeo and Juliet’ destination, as the guitarist’s high, flighty improvisations mingle with animated bass and percussion; and brief solo acoustic Home in E-minor could melt the stoniest of hearts. But this album isn’t all mellowness, as proven in rapid, erratic, Ghanaian-imbued KeeDee (with Jeff Ballard adding percussive fireworks on that very instrument, a kidi drum) – a joyful celebration, as is Bud Powell’s Parisian Thoroughfare which, here, swings diaphanously (quite distinct from its piano trio origin), with Martin’s fast-walking bass and Gilmore’s tight drum detail adding significantly to Hekselman’s fretboard verve.

Then there’s that centrepiece, eleven-minute Cosmic Patience, floating intergalactically against nebulous synth echoes, with Hekselman’s radiophonic guitar tone adding another dimension; and all the while, bass and drums hold a steady course. This Methenyesque exploration is echoed later with an interpretation of Pat Metheny’s classic Last Train Home – although it loses something of the journeying impetus of the original, its light, dancing samba groove becomes increasingly attractive. Baden Powell’s Samba Em Prelúdio’s affecting Latin melancholy is carried both eloquently and deftly by the trio, Hekselman’s amplified higher register so precise; and bold, statuesque Eyes to See possesses an anthemic breadth quite unlike anything else heard on this album.

Gilad Hekselman’s versatile signature guitar sound demands focus – but it’s that very detail, in conjunction with the sensitivity of his personnel, which becomes the attraction.


Vindstig
Vindstig
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £14.57

5.0 out of 5 stars Gloriously unpredictable and intelligent Icelandic/European jazz, 14 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Vindstig (Audio CD)
What is it about Icelandic jazz that is so beguilingly magnetic? Is it the musical risk-taking – an artistic openness which (maybe through our idealised imaginings) reflects something of the beauty of the island’s vast, unspoilt landscapes; or perhaps the changeable climatic conditions of this land of Aurora Borealis play their part?

Although pianist Kristján Martinsson is a native of Iceland, his colleagues in this European, Amsterdam-based piano trio hail from further afield – bassist Pat Cleaver (UK/France) and drummer Andris Buikis (Latvia). Together in this particular project since 2008 – and winners of three Icelandic Music awards – the thirteen compositions and improvisations of K Tríó’s fourth album Vindstig take their inspiration from thirteen Icelandic words for wind, musically evoking their varied, mercurial effects. And appropriately, the players also judiciously augment their sound with wind instruments (Cleaver, for example, being an accomplished trombonist).

The CD is packaged in a translucent paper sleeve sealed with a triangular sticker – not so ideal in terms of longevity; but it does immediately make a creative statement, containing rugged, monochrome artwork from visual artist Helga Paley which serves to enhance the originality of this music when back-projected during live shows.

K Tríó are gloriously unpredictable – a status which magically doesn’t alter over time – and their sound palette is as intriguing as it is alluring. Miniature abstract soundscapes segue into one another whilst longer, more structured gems sparkle and spike with a clear understanding of swing and be-bop. The sustained, slowly-oscillating resonances of Logn (calm) and Andvari (breeze) imply chilled, graduated azure skies… but they offer no clue to enraged Stormur, with its magnificent hullabaloo of hard, angular percussion/bass and boisterous piano. With chirpy flute/trombone/melodica introduction, melodious Stinningsgola goes on to display a bright piano trio likeness to e.s.t. or Christof Stiefel; and Rok is impressively infused with the kind of snappy, complex, bass-driven vigour associated with Phronesis.

Serene Gola is carried on a curiously-created, sympathetic jet stream of analogue effects, whilst capriciously rhythmic Kaldi leads to the audacious, heavy turbulence of Ofsaveður which teases with irregular cowboy-style riffs and thunderous high jinx. Kul is hymn-like, its gently-flowing piano and cymbals underpinning luscious, legato trombone melodies; and crashing Fárviðri (violent storms), foaming with an ominous flute and trombone tumult, finds Martinsson almost battling Buikus for percussive supremacy (with a ‘twister’ in the tail)! Evidence to surely suggest an exciting live experience.

Displaying the wondrous vitality and delicacy of written and improvised jazz, delivered through a satisfying and refreshing range of instrumental voices and timbres, I hope the long-range forecast for K Tríó remains “cyclonic, northwesterly, 7 to severe gale 9'… and always excellent!


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