RECENT LISTENING: February 2020 (1)

Old Wow – Sam Lee
Sam Lee, James Keay, Misha Mullov-Abbado, Josh Green, Bernard Butler, Letty Stott, Yusuf Narcin, Anthony Albrecht, Alice Zawadzki, Matthew Barley, Saul Eisenberg, Elizabeth Frazer, Mara Carlyle, Cosmo Sheldrake, Rowan ‘Dizraeli’ Sawday, Adrian Freedman, Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh, Ben Edwards
Release date: 31 January 2020 (Cooking Vinyl)
samleesong.co.uk

Shoot the Moon – Mezcla
Michael Butcher, Joshua Elcock, Ben MacDonald, Alan Benzie, David Bowden, Stephen Henderson, Steve Forman
Release date: 7 February 2020 (Ubuntu Music)
mezcla.co.uk/music

The Letter – Shri
Shri Sriram, Bugge Wesseltoft, Paolo Vinaccia, Arild Andersen, Tore Brunborg, Ben Castle
Release date: 13 March 2020 (Jazzland Recordings)
shri-sriram.bandcamp.com

Truce – Markus Reuter
Markus Reuter, Fabio Trentini, Asaf Sirkis
Release date: 17 January 2020 (MoonJune Records)
markus-reuter-moonjune.bandcamp.com

Earth – Expansions: The Dave Liebman Group
Dave Liebman, Matt Vashlishan, Bobby Avey, Tony Marino, Alex Ritz
Release date: 7 February 2020 (Whaling City Sound)
lydialiebman.com / davidliebman.com / whalingcitysound.com

New York – Copenhagen (EP) – Mette Juul
Mette Juul, Mike Moreno, Lars Danielsson, Ulf Wakenius, Per Møllehøj
Release date: 6 March 2020 (Universal Music)
mette-juul.com/music

REVIEW: ‘Strand’ – James Lindsay

TUMBLING with Gaelic threads which evoke festal reels and climatic atmospheres, Scottish bassist James Lindsay’s Strand – his debut as leader – melds grooving jazz, traditional folk and zesty rock to create a tapestry of airy, attractive landscapes.

A regular session musician and arranger, Glasgow-based Lindsay won the Martyn Bennett prize for composition in 2014 and is also a member of multi-award-winning folk band Braebeach. This programme of eight, broad numbers for sextet features lithe flute and fiddle melodies, instantly placing his original music ‘north of the border’; but don’t be fooled by its initial easy-going nature, as this ensemble works together to produce what becomes an inviting, contrasting weave of warm, incisive melody and textural detail. There are hints of the focus and camaraderie of the BBC’s Transatlantic Sessions – perhaps unsurprising, given that this album’s engineer, Iain Hutchinson, was key to that long-term project – yet the bassist’s jazz sensibilities also imbue his compositions with creative twists of opportunity for he and his players to offer their own improvisational flair.

Scotland’s rich and distinctive musical heritage is evident throughout, as in the mist-clearing expanses of Hebrides Terrace Seamount (the largest undersea mountain in the British Isles) which are coloured by Hamish Napier’s tremulant flute and Adam Sutherland’s lilting, portamento violin; and The Silent Spring‘s soft rivulets of Celtic-tinged melody reflect its compositional inspiration, a hidden stream which now supplies one of Scotland’s oldest whisky distilleries (pianist Tom Gibbs’ sole use of Fender Rhodes throughout this recording contributes greatly in blending tradition with contemporary ideas). Ben Macdonald’s country-rock electric guitar motion underpins Sòdhaigh (one of the isles of Skye), buoyed by fresh, unison flute and fiddle tunes, then side-footed into a tricksy, rhythmic pattern from drummer Scott Mackay; and Shallow Firth‘s more pressing Rhodes-and-guitar dominance echoes the composer’s interest in the work of jazz luminaries Bill Frisell and Ben Wendel.

Lindsay takes much inspiration from his native shores, so UB85, despite its breezy, flutey demeanour, is in fact based on a true story of sea monsters and a sunken German U-boat – and again the transition into another phase (a lurching, Groove Armada-style figure) is delightful, delicately enhanced by Sutherland’s jazz fiddle and Napier’s breathy harmonics. The rhythmic union of Lindsay, Macdonald, Gibbs and Mackay sails blithely around Stacks, supporting a spirited folk tune which celebrates these impressive geographical features of Scotland’s west coast with joyful, Joe Sample-like Rhodes acciaccaturas and trills as well as washy, iridescent seascapes, plus a measure of crashing-wave guitar grit. The soft-rock, up-in-the-clouds impressions of Forvie Sands / Creel (again, landscape-themed) are elegantly dancelike, infused with sustained electric guitar and bluesy fiddle; and widescreen Beaufort’s Dyke (inspired by a Wesleyan hymn tune) closes with a simple, longing sense of ‘going home’.

A few pre-recording studio videos – The Silent Spring, Forvie Sands and Hebrides Terrace Seamount – offer a glimpse of this accessible, fine and heartwarming Scottish excursion.

Released on 2 June 2017, Strand is available as a digital download or limited edition CD from Bandcamp.

 

James Lindsay double bass, compositions
Hamish Napier flute, Wurlitzer
Adam Sutherland fiddle
Ben Macdonald guitar
Tom Gibbs Fender Rhodes
Scott Mackay drums

Cover art: Into the Blue – Jane McMillan

jameslindsaymusic.com

OIR Recordings – OIRCD001 (2017)