And what a band – all Hunter cohorts from many a gig, all entirely familiar with his body of work and with these particular works; and all entirely in tune with the spirit that drives this remarkable music: Andrew Gander on drums, Matt McMahon on keys and Matt Keegan on tenor and soprano.
Few players – though brilliant on paper – could make something this good out of such freedom. Chops alone can’t do it – in fact chops often work in the opposite way. It is the subsuming of the ego and the meshing of consciousnesses that will get the players, and we the fortunate audience, there. And, here, The Hunters & Pointers do it every time.
What you can also hear is Daniel Susnjar’s easy dexterity and his knack of playing right inside the music.
Trombonist James Greening has always been one of our most joyful and joyous players. His very choice of instrument is joyful – the whinnying, hallelujah-ing of the trombone and the jovial flatulence of the sousaphone just bring a grin to your soul.
Swailing is as free as This is Always is restricted; it is as open as the quartet recording is closed. Swailing is the magpie, picking from electric Miles, Massenet and Fats; This is Always is the osprey, its eye fixed on the one prize.
And both are deliriously beautiful for all of these qualities and more.
‘…The Acronym Orchestra and many of their contemporaries joyfully celebrate and integrate and build upon the musical language of, and beyond, the jazz tradition – blues, gospel, jump, New Orleans, and even further back to Africa and the Middle East and both West and Eastern Europe.’
Rhythm. Heat. Lines. Movement. Energy. Since 2010’s ‘The Singularity’, The Sam Bates Trio have naturally progressed into the force of nature that we hear here.
Made up of guitarist Cameron Henderson, double-bassist Elsen Price and drummer Tully Ryan, The Trio are one of the current young bands that make me jump for joy. Genre-hopping is admirably rife in the modern jazz world, but done as it is here on their debut – Dubious Blues Trio – so unselfconsciously and with a real blues wildness, is a buzz.
‘Dan Sheehan, whose conception and compositions (largely) are the reason for Infinite Ape, moves like the ocean behind all this – his playing, whether acoustic or Rhodes, is as big as the room, whether it be a sprinkling of notes or a killer riff or – yeah! – big, big chords.’
‘…cross-cultural mash-up worked beautifully across the entire suite – a testimony to Robertson’s smart writing, deep research and even deeper emotional connection to the music.’