I’ve always thought thatPhillip Johnston’sapproach to jazz has a kind of cartoonish quality to it. His playing is sneaking up on you, surprising you and exploding like a cartoon dynamite. Other times, it’s like these pistols who, when fired, shoot out a flag that unfolds and writes ‘Bang!’
Beeche/Magnusson’s seventeen (yes, seventeen) tracks work through the spectrum of possibilities of the alto/guitar combination from the Hot Club joie-swing of ‘The Gift’ and ‘Wings’ through to impressionistic ballads like Beeche’s lovely ‘Golden Blue’ and all points between.
The wit and sense of fun in Andrew Dickeson’s arrangements across the album is a joy.
I hear an anarchic joy on James Macaulay’s ‘Today will be Another Day’
Sam Anning in his compositions pulls great emotion out of these disparate experiences and satori. ‘Across a Field as Vast as One’ is an album of great beauty that avoids the trap of complexity to focus on the emotional.
Upon first entering Bird’s Basement, I was immediately conscious of the crystalline sound of the piano, each unamplified note lingering in the space, untrammelled by its neighbours. The audience, in darkness, appeared hushed, as if intensely focused on the music: lyrical, melodic and restrained. As I was drawn into this music, I was conscious of its fragile delicacy, as Mark Isaacs mined the upper register, unafraid of summoning sheer beauty from his instrument.
Each of the nine pieces are more settings than compositions, or even improvisation – settings for Dilworth to express this idea of viata/life, and his reaction to it. Many of the tunes on ‘Viata’ have a European dissonance, a Bartokian slipping in and out of key and tone – not exactly dissonance, more the stretching of the envelope, a very human thing, tying it to the universality of the blues.
Derricott has always been one of our most surprising drummers, technically exciting while at ease in any improvisational situation, creating effortlessly and colourfully.
James Muller’s tone across the entire album is immaculate: rich yet biting when it needs to be, with piano-like chords or brittle percussive comping. The minimal comping and lack of piano lends all of the performances an open, contrapuntal transparency that lend it an astringent economy, letting the music breath organically. Exciting stuff.
Hers is a naturally musical voice aided and abetted by impeccable pitch and an ability to move through registers effortlessly. Clancye Milne’s jazz sensibilities are strong and she phrases with the maturity of a jazz singer twice her age, with just a whisper of Blossom Dearie.