‘Blackwater’ – Henrik Jensen’s Followed by Thirteen

Blackwater

DANISH-BORN, London-resident double bassist Henrik Jensen’s second release with his Followed By Thirteen ensemble – Blackwater (named after the river by which he proposed to his wife-to-be) – follows up 2013’s debut, Qualia.

Read the full review at LondonJazz News…

Released on 2 September 2016, Blackwater is available from Jellymould Jazz.

 

Andre Canniere trumpet, flugelhorn
Esben Tjalve piano
Henrik Jensen bass
Antonio Fusco drums

henrik-jensen.com

Jellymould Jazz – JM-JJ023 (2016)

‘Silent Storm’ – Kristian Borring

red-withguides

A COOL, LUMINOUS BREEZE once again permeates the classy grooves of Danish guitarist Kristian Borring’s original music in new album Silent Storm.

Directly following 2015’s late Autumn tour schedule with pianist Arthur Lea, double bassist Mick Coady and drummer Jon Scott (who were also the core line-up of 2014’s Urban Novel), London-based Borring and his quartet took to the studio to capture, within 24 hours, something of the freshness of their live performances; and the shared empathy and vibrancy honed in their time on the road is stylishly communicated throughout this one-hour, ten-track session.

The guitarist’s clear improvisatory journeyings, as always, catch the attention here; and with integral support from Lea, Coady and Scott, he gleefully swings opening number When He Goes Out to Play with a subtly overdriven, wide-skied freedom at which both its title and Borring’s own album cover image hint. This is no underused fretboard, Ton‘s solo guitar lines scuttling across the pacey rhythm section as Arthur Lea adeptly jabs at and chromatically runs across the keys; and the afterglow freshness of Islington Twilight‘s solo guitar introduction belies its punkish drive, later halted by the leader’s attractively phased timbres which recede into the darkness.

April Fools‘ central, homely piano figure encourages eloquent bass meanderings from Mick Coady, wrapped warmly in Borring’s delicate chords – and Jon Scott’s drums, so often characterised by crackling fervour, add sensitive, glinting precision. The purposeful pop-song demeanour of Everyman, which could easily invite a vocal line, instead opens the way for expressive, Latinesque electric guitar as Lea’s piano provides a rockier edge; and Cool It (modelled on Sonny Rollins’ Airegin) flies like the wind, its swift, classic jazz exuberance buoyed by the happy chatter of bass and drums.

Borring’s delicate tracery throughout title track Silent Storm – mainly for guitar trio – might suggest John Etheridge or Mike Walker, yet the Scandinavian inflections here are quite distinctive, creating such gentle positivity. Nosda, too, is finely balanced, as Lea’s piano emphasises its subtle samba rhythms and bright, rolling phrases (Arthur Lea is clearly the perfect melodic partner for Borring, especially evident when their paths intertwine so meticulously); and closing Fable displays all the guitar finesse of Jim Hall with a soft, bluesy, summer’s afternoon swing which reveals, with more clarity than ever, the individual musicality of these fine players.

Joyful, sophisticated and certainly moreish.

Released on 29 July 2016, Silent Storm is available from Jellymould Jazz.

 

Kristian Borring electric guitar
Arthur Lea piano
Mick Coady double bass
Jon Scott drums

kristianborring.com

Jellymould Jazz – JM-JJ024 (2016)

‘Wild Life’ – Hannes Riepler

wildlife_4-page-booklet.indd

RADIATING easy-going confidence and expressive, improvisatory freedom, guitarist Hannes Riepler’s new quartet release, Wild Life, balances West Coast cool with East End ebullience.

Born in Austria, though resident in London for the last decade and increasingly a key figure on the capital’s lively music scene, Riepler assembled this fine personnel from his popular weekly melting pot of international ‘happening’ jazz – Sunday night downstairs sessions at the Vortex Jazz Club. The spark of playing a set there with celebrated New York saxophonist Chris Cheek and established UK musicians Oli Hayhurst (double bass) and James Maddren (drums) ignited further collaboration, resulting in a 2015 European tour and this ‘live feel’ studio recording (his second as leader).

Riepler suggests that these eight tracks – mostly his own originals – are a reflection of the thronging multicultural community he is a part of (hence the ‘marketplace minstrel’ appearance on the CD cover!). There’s certainly a sense of momentum and discovery here; and whilst the predominant ‘easiness’ of this ensemble might initially allow these fifty-or-so minutes to blend pleasantly into the background, its impressive invention, detail and buoyant energy soon begin to emerge.

The guitarist’s sound is wholly integral to the quartet, either in understated chordal exploration or fleet solo line improvisation, as in Golden Rainbow which brightly breezes along to Chris Cheek’s fluid tenor delivery and James Maddren’s distinctive, hard-snare/tom exuberance. Nothing New … Just Beautiful‘s smooth openness highlights the lynchpin role of Riepler, laying down smouldering riffs and melodies for Cheek to take in new directions, as well as providing his own precise, self-accompanied forays; and the mobile guitar groove to Gillett Square Blues (alight at Dalston Kingsland station!) might conjure retro, swingin’ ’60s imagery, with tenor tumblings and a driving pulse from Maddren and Hayhurst.

Cheek’s composition Sailing Ships cuts through the swell with the sunniest of sax deliveries, Riepler matching Cheek’s feel-good with chromatic solo deftness and carefully woven rhythms to ease back into; and One Shot (the album opener) rocks out to this quartet’s incisive, responsive drum/bass pairing, with a whiff of livelier Joe Pass in Riepler’s showcases. Completing the urban portrait, title track Wild Life shuffles chirpily, and the impudence of the closing interpretation of singer-songwriter Beck’s pop-stomp, Modern Guilt, can’t fail to raise a smile (nay, a dance).

Released on 9 February 2016, Wild Life may well nudge its way into your affections – and there it might stay. Available directly from Jellymould Jazz.

 

Hannes Riepler guitar
Chris Cheek tenor saxophone
Oli Hayhurst double bass
James Maddren drums

hannesriepler.com

Jellymould Jazz – JJ-JM022 (2016)

‘Stardust’ – Stan Sulzmann, Nikki Iles

Stardust

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.

Released on 25 January 2016. Available from Jellymould Jazz, record stores and online retailers.

 

Stan Sulzmann tenor saxophone
Nikki Iles piano

stansulzmann.co.uk
nikkiiles.co.uk

Jellymould Jazz – JM-JJ020 (2015)

‘The Feel Good Place’ – Tim Thornton

TimThornton

YOU’RE LOOKIN’ FOR SWING?… you’ve come to the right place – Tim Thornton’s energetic, vibrant The Feel Good Place.

The London-based double bassist works with some of jazz’s finest, including Gilad Atzmon, Brandon Allen, Ivo Neame and Gregory Porter, as well being a regular member of Ronnie Scott’s All Stars and hosting a residency at Ronnie Scott’s Late Late Show with this fine quartet of James Gardiner-Bateman (alto sax), Grant Windsor (piano) and Chris Draper (drums). Known for his commanding, punchy bass sonority, Thornton also reveals his classy compositional prowess in this debut on the Jellymould Jazz label with five expansive originals plus one arrangement – and hashtags #swing and #feelgood are entirely appropriate.

Influential possibilities abound in this zazzy recording (Mingus, Ellington and Monk immediately spring to mind), right from the opening ebullience of ten-minute Sweet Chin Music. With Thornton’s solid lead always evident in the mix, Gardiner-Bateman’s unfettered alto improv is a joy, and the frequency of live playing surely contributes much to the unwavering tightness of their rhythms. Grant Windsor’s pianistic style is both precise and bright; and in tuneful Newborn (referencing US pianist Phineas Newborn Jnr.), there’s that flowing, classic feel of Peterson, Brown and Thigpen, albeit with tumbling sax melodies – altogether a totally spirited performance.

Chris Draper’s rattling percussion spikes the lazy blues of title track The Feel Good Place, with the slurred confidence of Gardiner-Bateman’s alto lines reminiscent of Ron Aspery, as Thornton scampers briskly over the fingerboard. The smile-inducing drum effervescence which introduces Monkish Dribbling (facial or footie?!) sets the players off into a bustling display of energy which almost topples over itself in excited impatience; and Tim Thornton’s sunny, re-harmonised arrangement of Paul McCartney’s Here, There and Everywhere (from, arguably, The Beatles’ most enduring album, Revolver) is pleasantly spry, encouraged along by bubbling bass and subtly Latin piano.

The slow, descending-bass wistfulness of Corona (a ballad which claims the exotic mood and melodic presence of a familiar jazz favourite) softly shimmers to Draper’s deep, malleted cymbals as the accomplished chromatic darting of Gardiner-Bateman’s lower register becomes extraordinarily redolent of Stan Getz; and fast-swing finale Wicked Rickety positively gallops its way through almost nine minutes of tricksy, no-holes-barred soloing, with rhythm-makers Thornton and Draper stealing the show before fade-out.

Released on 2 October 2015, The Feel Good Factor offers an hour of accessible, mainstream, jazz-club grooving which continually sparkles with interest – very much ‘the right place’.

Available to sample and purchase at Jellymould Jazz.

 

Tim Thornton double bass
James Gardiner-Bateman alto saxophone
Grant Windsor piano
Chris Draper drums

timthorntonbass.com

Jellymould Jazz – JM-JJ021 (2015)

‘Into View’ – Paul Riley Quintet

IntoView

A DEBUT RELEASE that has magnetised my attention over the past few weeks, young London-based saxophonist and composer Paul Riley’s quintet album, Into View, possesses a certain blue-sky luminosity which seems to combine the spirit of West Coast jazz with a cool, precise, English sensibility.

Riley’s companions on this recording are already familiar names on the circuit – Ant Law (guitar), Mitch Jones (piano), Matt Ridley (double bass), Dave Hamblett (drums) – and together they forge a compelling set of eleven original numbers which sparkle equally to tightly-scored and broadly-improvised episodes. Riley and Law solo upfront, as well as frequently sharing extended, rapid-fire unison lines, within a musical landscape which might suggest a blend of early Moutin Reunion Quartet, Kairos 4tet and John McLaughlin – yet this new band already demonstrates the potential to flourish under its own identity, due to Riley’s compositional strength and instrumental steadfastness.

Opening outlines the quintet’s clear, measured articulation before launching into the energetic, controlled propulsion of Spindrift which flows melodically to bustling solos from Riley, Law and Mitch Jones; and, following, the elegance of title track Into View is conveyed through Paul Riley’s smooth, dry, Getzian alto, buoyed by an infectious piano/bass/drum riff. Song for Laura subtly charms with a relaxed, fluent, soprano sax demeanour reminiscent of Tim Garland’s work; and Outlaw is a stand-out, its rippling groove showcasing Ant Law’s remarkable invention and dexterity through an attractive Santana/McLaughlin tone – the whole thing just flies!

Wistful and carefree, Another Summer relaxes to the delicacy of sustained sax and bass solos, whilst sprightly Underhand perpetuates the cloudless feel-good as Riley’s grittier alto pushes the envelope a little higher (a sign, perhaps, of greater freedoms to come). Brisk waltz Gamelas possesses a searching soprano melody and aura worthy of TV drama titles, Jones’ decorative piano chromatics especially impressive here; and the more shadowy aspect of Riley’s writing continues with the more introverted Looking Back. Ahead of Closing (a reflective tailpiece), The Way Home darts to more of those audaciously-extended, shared unison or harmonised lines from Riley and Law – and whilst there may be some sense of repetition of earlier material, it nonetheless tumbles over itself in unbridled enthusiasm.

Released on 6 April 2015, Into View is a fine and promising debut, displaying a fervour which is difficult to ignore. Available from Jellymould Jazz.

 

Paul Riley alto and soprano saxophones
Ant Law guitar
Mitch Jones piano
Matt Ridley double bass
Dave Hamblett drums

paulrileysax.com

Jellymould Jazz – JM-JJ018 (2014)

‘Wildflower’ – Wild Flower Sextet

Wildflower

THE HIGH praise I can bestow on saxophonist Matt Anderson is that, on his equally-balanced collection of interpretations and new compositions inspired by jazz icon Wayne Shorter, I genuinely need to refer to the credits to check the provenance of each of the eight extensive numbers!

The Wild Flower Sextet takes its name from Shorter’s piece of the same name – from much-lauded 1966 album Speak No Evil – and comprises Anderson (tenor sax), Laura Jurd (trumpet), Alex Munk (guitar), Jamil Sherriff (piano), Sam Vicary (double bass) and Sam Gardner (drums).

From the very first bars of Anderson’s confident opener, Blues for Wayne, there’s a discernible Jazz Messengers buoyancy to this debut album recording which quickly identifies the tightness of his ensemble; and whilst keeping alive the tradition of joyous, swinging mainstream jazz, this relatively young personnel – including the spirited playing of guitarist Alex Munk – injects Anderson’s and Shorter’s writing with considerable pizazz. The leader’s own tenor is commanding both in its resonance and uninhibitedness, rallying his players to a full and fluent sound which exudes real enjoyment.

Another of Matt Anderson’s originals, Sfumato, struts its stuff with all the familiarity of an established ’60s standard (reminiscences of Johnny Dankworth not far off) thanks to memorable trumpet and tenor lines, as well as pacey guitar improvisation. But it must take a certain amount of fearlessness to approach the venerable music of Wayne Shorter. Nonetheless, the sextet’s reading of Masqualero feels impressively unrestrained, allowing efflorescent freedom of expression; and the combination of Laura Jurd’s blazing trumpet and Munk’s wailing guitar over Jamil Sheriff’s Rhodes, all to the bass and drums turbulence of Sam Vicary and Sam Gardner, provides the exciting edginess of experimental fusion.

Burning Man again indicates Anderson’s prowess as a writer – a beautifully melodic retro bossa with a roaming spirit as free as a wildflower meadow, creating shifting sweeps of colour (so much fine detailing here from all players, including the effective simplicity of unison piano and guitar lines). The broad canvas of J.G., at over nine minutes’ duration, finds the sextet in a wonderfully ebullient frame of mind – one of those atmospheres to simply ease back into as it scales luscious semitonal chord progressions, featuring delicious solos from Jurd and Anderson; and, with an introductory inertia magically evoking the memory of Weather Report, Wayne Shorter’s Fall beautifully treads the fine line between freedom and structure over complex, constantly ticking drums and cymbals from Gardner (Munk’s involvement a reminder of WR’s final release, This Is This, with Carlos Santana guesting).

Two further Shorter tunes complete the album. Three Clowns (from Weather Report’s popular Black Market) is strangely unfamiliar, devoid of Joe Zawinul’s trademark keyboards, but compelling to hear Anderson’s relaxed Shorteresque melodies instead; and the joyous Lester Left Town (from Messenger days, circa 1960) is brought bang up to date in a fabulously audacious shifting-tempi arrangement, Sam Gardner’s presence at the kit especially imposing (Mr Blakey would surely approve!).

Released on 9 March 2015 on the Jellymould Jazz label, Wildflower is as fresh and imaginative as they come – this sextet deserves to flourish.

 

Matt Anderson tenor saxophone
Laura Jurd trumpet
Alex Munk electric guitar
Jamil Sheriff piano
Sam Vicary double bass
Sam Gardner drums

matt-anderson.org.uk

Jellymould Jazz – JJ017 (2014)