What is jazz anyway? I have just got a history of jazz from the library. It’s 800 pages long and weighs as much as a house brick, and even if I read all of it I may be none the wiser. There are certainly a lot of jazzes to choose from, and Misinterprotato work their way across quite a few of them.
A piano bass and drum trio might be expected to pick a furrow and plough it, like the Necks (an acknowledged influence on Misinterprotato), but this group are exploratory and firmly, imperiously so – even if not always successfully. The one thing that’s always certain is their confidence in each other and the surefootedness of their interplay. All the playing is faultless, and the instrumentation transcends its limits: in fact scorns them.
The one thing that’s always certain is their confidence in each other and the surefootedness of their interplay. All the playing is faultless, and the instrumentation transcends its limits: in fact scorns them.
But what are they playing? There’s something about their style, for the most part direct, motile and to the point, that reminded me of a rock band: a rock band from about 1969, moving into different directions, playing around with their jazz roots but still kicking it, in a Jack Bruce/Ginger Baker kind of way. In the opening track ‘Chase’, where Sean Foran on piano melts the tarmac with some lovely Julian Joseph style lefthandedness and Blue Note tinged rhythms, it’s all sinuous and irresistible. But then there’ll be a sudden swerve, in ‘Cute’ for example, into a kind of prog-jazz bluster, and (though I know this is the worst thing any reviewer could ever say about any band ever) at one point (‘Shut Up’) the shade of Emerson Lake Palmer and swam before my eyes, like Banquo’s ghost at the feast. This can happen in mid track, and isn’t always welcome. It feels as if there’s an effort at ‘composition’ which doesn’t have quite enough integrity to unite the track’s wildly disparate elements.
That may sound flippant, but it’s partly a result of a kind of creative indecision: the group lean in different directions, all with equal facility and verve, and don’t seem to muster enough conviction to pursue one. Eclecticism will only get you so far. It feels as if they need to, at least for a while, pick a jazz and stick with it. The album is most integrated in its quieter moments – for instance when all the things they could be playing sit suspended, framing the sparse, tensely maintained, delicately picked out meditations of ‘Blues for the space’. (Their titles all describe the tracks perfectly, which is a rare art in itself.)
This is a tantalising collection. The seductive bits are irresistible, the thoughtful parts beguiling, and the bombastic parts alarming, but there’s another part that joins them together and sweeps all before it, that you don’t hear. I can’t wait till they find it: I think they will.
Sean Foran – piano
John Parker – drums
Pat Marchisella – bass