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4.8 out of 5 stars
10
Alive
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 March 2017
Despite having seen Phronesis in concert a number of times I have delayed buying a CD on the grounds that a Cd is unlikely to capture the atmosphere and excitement of thelive performance, but having purchased a CD (in fact two) I am proved wrong. Phronesis's music is really quite initimate. The cohesiveness of the three musicians is such that they work as a single entity; there is no dominant voice and the three seem to be totally aware of each other, responding to subtle changes. Describing the nature of their work is difficult in words. The music is very modern; the time signatures complex and, although it would be incorrect to describe the music as tuneless; the themes are subtle.
Three very talented musicians.
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on 20 February 2011
I was inpired to write a review of this after seeing the band play an exciting, intimate gig at Brighton Jazz Club last Friday. This made me think that they are all about live performance, so a live album has to be the best recommendation.

They have moved on to new material now - but the stand-out track on this album - "Abraham's New Gift", formed a hugely-deserved encore. In many ways this typifies what the band is all about - so it's a tune with 15 beats to the bar, although this is hard to hear as it's split into 7 and 8, where the 8 is pushed. This gives a unique rhythmic feel and culminates in an unbelieveable drum solo/feature!

This format of piano trio, really give the bass and drums a chance to stretch out and be featured and it's not piano that leads the band as is usual, but rather Jasper Hoiby who is the main writer, leader and soloist. With Ivo Neame often playing a supporting role.

Live, Hoiby dominates the stage - introducing tunes and talking to the audience - his bass playing is also a thing to behold, his long fingers making tremendous stretches. Of course you don't see this on the album, but his bass sound is to the fore - highly ryhthmic, with intricate flourishes and wonderful, full acoustic tone.

Each of the players are recorded very well and despite the live format, everything is crystal clear and often you forget it's live; you are just there with the band. The trio format gives an intimacy and also the focus falls on interplay - especially as I mentioned, rhythmic trading of ideas and patterns. Of course, these are virtuoso players - but they use their abilities to create ideas which at times are quite "danceable" - reminiscent of Drum 'n Bass for acoustic instruments.

There are so many ideas here - interesting, beautiful tunes that are sometimes gentle and then brutal in their rhythmic instensity. Piano and bass duets that amaze with their tightness and others that seem too fast and intricate to keep going. The album is generously long at nearly 75 minutes and is a great document of a real live phenomenon! If you can't get to see them live - then this is the next best thing!
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on 23 January 2012
EST and Phronesis might both include Scandinavian musicians, but please don't compare the two groups. EST was a Swedish group, Phronesis is an international project. EST's's music was resolutely Scandinavian, Phronesis' influences are Mediterranean and Latin-tinged. EST played a hybrid of jazz rock, often relying for effect on amplification and heavy production values; Phronesis are an acoustic jazz group relying on the rhythmic propulsion provided by excellent composition and dynamic performance. This is an outstanding release by an outstanding and original talent. They deserve to be heard in their own right. Comparisons with EST are very wide of the mark.
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on 8 August 2010
I've just been to see this amazing jazz trio at the Brecon Jazz Festival and they blew me away. They are led by tall blonde double bassist Jasper Hoiby who on this disc is accompanied by pianist Ivo Neame and drummer Mark Guiliana. They recorded this in front of a live audience which helps to keep this music fresh and powerful throughout (although it must be said that seeing a band like this live is always better). Hoiby's bass takes the lead, with some wonderful loose but precise drumming complementing the piano, which adds a beguiling story underneath, a little like watching fascinating scenery through the window of a fast moving train.
I had to buy the CD after the gig - and immediately fixated on the beguiling groove on 'French' that I'd heard just a few hours before.
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on 24 May 2011
This is a superb album! Hard to want to spend your time by writing on and on about it when you should just stop reading this review and click the 'buy' button. Not convinced? Okay, let me try to explain some more: they're a little bit like the earlier EST, the common point between them being the sense of implied narrative in both band's music. Both groups are trios, both comprised of superb musicians. Their potential is awesome, and, having seen both bands live (very highly recommended) I can say that each bring/brought a passion, charm and humour to music that's rare in a world of sector-targetted pop dross. I hope I convinced you now; I'm done.
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on 28 September 2012
I have to be brutally honest about this: there's a lack of something here (maturity perhaps) that results more often than not in something distinctly heavyhanded, almost formulaic about the performance. Hoiby's bass lines plod on and on and on, and despite his best efforts, Mark Guiliana's role as stand in (?) drummer merely confirms the absence of a more regular group's telepathic interraction (at the highest levels that is). The compositional format (I'm not familiar enough with Hoiby to know whether this is his trademark) is repetitive - overly reliant on abrupt changes of tempo and volume - and far too anchored to allow opportunity for the types of collective/individual spontaneity or uninhibited exploration that are the hallmarks of great live jazz. Given the breadth of competition I would venture to say that piano trio music is one of the toughest genres out there; and hence my opinion that these guys still have 'some way to go'....
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on 9 August 2010
"Alive sounds like one of the hot UK jazz-album contenders of 2010"
**** [The Guardian]

"The sort of album that should get bigger jazz names quaking in their boots." [Bass guitar Magazine]

"Look out for Phronesis - they might change your life!" [Sean Rafferty 'In Tune' BBC Radio 3]'

"Alive is about as exciting as it can get without actually seeing this band live and in the flesh" **** [Jazzwise]

"This scorching live set fizzes with a post-EST/Avishai Cohen-style energy, replete with sunny Mediterranean Brazilian flourishes and depth-charge basslines."
**** [Time Out]

"a spirited and dramatic three-way musical conversation". [The York Press]

"Characterized by intense, bass-driven grooves in odd time signatures, lyrical melodies, and fantastic interplay, this album shows Høiby's flair as a composer, whilst framing the pure strength of the performers as contemporary improvisers."
[Alex J Watson - All About Jazz]

"Anyone who doubts there's a UK jazz scene worth taking note of should listen to Phronesis, who are proof positive that we have bands that are worthy of jazz's premier league right on our doorstep."
[Bass Guitar Magazine]
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on 3 June 2015
Very dynamic recording
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on 5 September 2010
Phronesis are an exciting progressive jazz trio, which on this recording capture the live aspect of their performance only bettered by hearing them live. Three musicians who are so understanding of each others ideas that what they produce is quite magical in it's musical awareness.
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on 28 October 2010
The third CD by british based jazz trio 'Phronesis' this time it's a recording of a live set recorded earlier this year. The playing and recording quality is excellent.
Simple....buy this album, it's fantastic.
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