‘Thought You Knew’ – Snowpoet

ThoughtYouKnew

THE IMMERSIVE experience of Snowpoet’s eponymous 2016 debut album left a lasting imprint…

Read my full review at LondonJazz News.

Released on 9 February 2018 and available in CD, digital and vinyl formats from Edition Records at Bandcamp.

 

Lauren Kinsella vocals, backing vocals, lyrics
Chris Hyson electric bass, double bass, piano, synths
Nicholas Costley-White acoustic guitar
Matthew Robinson piano
Dave Hamblett drums
Josh Arcoleo saxophone
with
Alice Zawadzki violin
Francesca Ter-Berg cello
Lloyd Haines drums, percussion (tracks 1, 2 and 7)

Produced by Chris Hyson

snowpoet.co.uk

Edition Records – EDN1105 (2018)

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‘Scratch and Sift’ – Michael Chillingworth

Scratch2

THE CURIOUS ASSORTMENT of characters above conceals a delicious preponderance of reeds in Michael Chillingworth’s debut septet album, Scratch and Sift.

Saxophonist and clarinettist Chillingworth is a mainstay of London’s contemporary jazz scene, working with artists such as Stan Sulzmann, Julian Siegel, James Maddren and Kit Downes. So it’s fascinating to discover the free thinking of his own writing, realised with colleagues Tom Challenger (tenor, clarinet), Josh Arcoleo (tenor), George Crowley (bass clarinet), Lewis Wright (vibes), Sam Lasserson (bass) and Jon Scott (drums).

Here is an album which rasps and sizzles so hard and so densely that it’s hard to ignore. Contrastingly sweet and sour, many of these eight, original compositions somehow seem to convey the arresting wit, irony and dark mischievousness to be found in classic, monochrome Ealing comedies. Right from the off, stealthy vibraphone and spicy horn ta-dahhs in Butterman lure the senses into an unusual world of theatrics and drollery, its agile melodies and close, spiky arrangements shadily tiptoeing around each corner; and Mint‘s syncopated blarings are matched by Jon Scott’s perky percussion, with some delightful individual improvisations widening into more open landscapes.

Yes, there’s a certain, honest Britishness to Chillingworth’s musical imagination. Overlaid tumblings in Brian Kuh give way to rapid, exuberant sax anarchy as the leader’s swirling alto is taunted by his assailants amidst challenging, irregular riffs (unpredictable, scampering unison passages here, which break into harmony, are especially effective… nay, smile-inducing). The furtive bass clarinet, double bass and vibes of clock-ticking The Wait (not to be listened to, alone, on a dimly-lit railway platform!) eventually screech to jittery alto and a cacophony of wailing sirens; so it’s quite likely that lumbering, irascible Capture is the resultant, bumpy, Black Maria journey!

Politely funky Grateful Lady is a joy, Lewis Wright’s repeated vibraphone chromatics providing the notorious ‘sax and clarinet boys’ with an opportunity to knock seven bells out of each other – so much vim and vigour, encouraged by Lasserson and Scott in the propulsive rhythm section, and concluding with wonderfully wheezy, out-of-breath textures in the reeds department. Through the opening flick of one eye, Numbers‘ initial quietude becomes utterly mischievous, its inquisitive alto extensions and trills breaking into communal boogie; and closing Righteous fools no-one – a chuffing, squawking hullabaloo which, though microscopically arranged, is as tireless and wild as the album’s earlier, madcap adventures – and Chillingworth’s hard-blown improv just as audacious.

Awright, mate [nudge, wink]… go get it!

Released on Two Rivers Records on 1 July 2016, Scratch and Sift is available from Bandcamp.

 

Michael Chillingworth alto saxophone, clarinet
Tom Challenger tenor saxophone, clarinet
Josh Arcoleo tenor saxophone
George Crowley bass clarinet
Lewis Wright vibraphone
Sam Lasserson bass
Jon Scott drums

michaelchillingworth.com

Two Rivers Records – TRR 010 (2016)

‘Snowpoet’ – Snowpoet

Snowpoet

IN A WORLD where, like some time-lapse street scene, we are frequently bombarded by high-energy grooves and cacophonous soundbites, Snowpoet have an adroit ability to create, through arresting vocal melodies/utterances and unexpected instrumental timbres, a gossamer labyrinth of intrigue and enchantment in which to lose ourselves.

The mesmerising vocals of Lauren Kinsella, fronting these nine tracks, are sensitively woven into the band’s ebbing and flowing sonic spaces – and the effect, particularly when heard in quiet isolation, has a remarkable impact on the senses. Kinsella – who sees her voice primarily as an instrument – places an emphasis on syllabic deconstruction, as well as rhythmic and tonal modulation (reminiscent of Annette Peacock), explaining that “sound comes through the word and has a musical meaning all of its own, regardless of its linguistic understanding.” That approach, central to this album’s creative folk/ambience, can be inexplicably and emotionally moving. Comprising a personnel (see below) who, individually, perform across a variety of genres (including contemporary jazz), these soundscapes are mixed by Chris Hyson and Alex Killpartrick; and the musical environments they produce require a certain abandonment from the listener.

Vivid, sun-glinted rivulets are depicted in Mermaid, a beautifully accessible introduction teeming with instrumental/electronic life and dreamy, layered vocals; and the whispered usherings of In a Quiet Space lead to Kinsella’s characteristic, undulating voice, the sense of anticipation painted by luscious clusters of sound suggesting a magical discovery under a forest canopy. Glad To Have Lost is redolent of one of Kinsella’s other projects, Blue Eyed Hawk, in the way its prog-style guitar and electronics underpin her typically measured lines before melting into piano-teared ambience; and the Irish lilt of Laura Kinsella’s poetic, melodic speech here is so compelling.

Creaking, tuned-out piano accompanies the vocal line in live-feel If I Miss a Star (an effect which recalls the quaintness of Peter Gabriel’s Me and My Teddy Bear), and countryfied Little Moon Man, with its acoustic guitar momentum, is utterly charming, delicately swathed in wordless backing vocals and ’70s-style synth riffs. The band’s acuity with audio imagery is continued in Gathering, as floating patterns, clicky extraneous sounds and broken, sustained electronics head downstream; and Kinsella’s playful dialogue in Waves is fused with 12-string guitar and plush vocal textures which later hit crashing breakers. Poetry of Stillness suggests an echoic, Peter Pan world of heavenly imagination with lengthened, storytelling vocalisations (“together, we walked up into a clou-u-ud of dreams”); and extended, rising Eviternity closes with a tingling sense of hope.

Especially in late-night solitude, this is a go-to album for immersive escapism – and that can be engendered in so many ways, be it disturbing, becalming or joyfully life-affirming. It takes deep, musical sincerity to achieve such powerful therapy; and for this reason, Snowpoet’s debut recording remains an outstanding body of work.

Released on Two Rivers Records, Snowpoet can be purchased in CD and digital download formats at Bandcamp.

 

Lauren Kinsella vocals, lyrics
Chris Hyson electric bass, keyboards, synths, piano, acoustic guitar, Wurlitzer
Matthew Robinson piano, keyboards, synths
Nicholas Costley-White acoustic and electric guitars
Josh Arcoleo backing vocals, synths, tenor saxophone
Dave Hamblett drums
with
Lloyd Haines additional drums (Little Moon Man, Poetry of Stillness)
Alex Killpartrick additional synth (Little Moon Man)

snowpoet.co.uk

Two Rivers Records – TRR 007

‘These Skies In Which We Rust’ – John Law’s New Congregation

JohnLaw

FOR ALMOST thirty years, classically-trained British pianist John Law has been pushing on the door of jazz creativity, forming and reshaping his own particularly diverse routes through an impressive catalogue of ensemble and solo piano releases.

Read the full review at LondonJazz News…

 

John Law piano, keyboards, glockenspiel
Josh Arcoleo tenor sax
Yuri Goloubev double bass
Laurie Lowe drums, ibo drum
with 
Holly Law voice

johnlaw.org.uk

33 Extreme – 33Xtreme006 (2015)

‘Nine Tales of the Pendulum’ – Mick Coady’s Synergy featuring David Binney

Pendulum

INITIALLY LAUNCHED towards the end of 2012, this excellent album from Mick Coady’s Synergy is now being re-released, this time in conjunction with a short UK tour, and then into Holland.

Coady assembles a great quintet to unlock the potential of these nine originals, and the players interact very much as a cohesive ensemble throughout – venturesome soloing, yet always an ear for overall colour and balance. The Irishman is a familiar presence on the London jazz circuit (bassist for Pete King and a host of visiting artists, as well as a founder member of the Loop Collective) – but here, for his first album, he reveals his prowess in creating intoxicating compositions (seven of the nine) for the estimable company of David Binney (alto), Michael Buckley (tenor), Ivo Neame (piano) and Sean Carpio (drums).

There is immediacy, solidity and verve to proceedings, typified by the driving pace of opening number, ‘Autumn’, Binney making his mark with unwavering, increasing vigour, the band matching him all the way; and Buckley offering only brief tenor respite in this magnetic, bubbling start. The anarchic saxophones of ‘Enemies of Order’ duel it out over Carpio’s exuberant rhythm before Neame and Coady enter the fray with their suitably brisk piano and bass display. The space of David Binney’s pegged-back ‘Real Ballad’ is delectable, alto and tenor fusing beautifully over the intertwining sonorous bass and searching piano improvisation – and such beguiling, sublime tenor soloing from Buckley.

‘Naturally Liberating Molecules’ communicates the band members’ empathy with each other; Carpio, Coady and Neame set up a mesmerising rhythm of intent which is the perfect vehicle for Binney and Buckley to accept the organic freedom the title suggests – hard-edged, growling and wailing tenor making this highlight bristle with excitement! Mick Coady takes the opportunity, in ’64 Claudio Coello’, to enhance mellifluous, combined sax lines before demonstrating his own instrumental lyricism. And from the pen of Ivo Neame comes the resolute ‘Unseen Coracle’ (from Neame’s current octet album, ‘Yatra’), his skilful writing and soloing illustrating why he is one of British jazz’s brightest and most versatile pianist/composers.

Further into the album, the 12-minute ‘Abyss’ is a darker affair, slow-burning, affording the quintet an expanse in which to breathe and explore ideas. ‘Beginning’ is strong on melodies, Buckley and Neame taking the lead assuredly, Coady and Carpio maintaining its strong impetus; and, finally, the enticing swing of ‘Skimpy’ provides an entertainingly lively play-out, refusing to adhere to the suggestion of its meagre title!

‘Nine Tales of the Pendulum’ (released 1 October 2013) deserves to be listened to closely and repeatedly – turn it up loud and you’re right there with them!


ALBUM PERSONNEL

Mick Coady Bass
David Binney Alto Saxophone
Michael Buckley Tenor Saxophone
Ivo Neame Piano
Sean Carpio Drums

LIVE PERSONNEL & DATES

Mick Coady Bass
David Binney Alto Saxophone
Julian Arguelles Tenor Saxophone
Ivo Neame Piano
James Maddren Drums

11 October 2013: Symphony Hall, Birmingham
13 October 2013: Marsden Jazz Festival
15 October 2013: Con Cellar Bar, London
17 October 2013: Band On The Wall, Manchester
18 October 2013: Denhaag, Holland

http://www.jellymouldjazz.net/releases/nine-tales-of-the-pendulum/

Jellymould Jazz – JM-JJ008 (2012/13)