the remembering and forgetting of the air
Review by Phil Sandford
This is a stunningly beautiful album, full of warmth, with touches of Ellington and Mingus, of soul and pop, and featuring a stellar cast of musicians.
The compositions, all originals by Zwartz, develop organically and effortlessly, belying the extensive work that has gone into their creation. The soloists tailor their contributions to the mood of each piece, adding to the feeling that the album is a suite of connected pieces. Meanwhile, Zwartz, Stuart, Hevia and McCall lay down a rock solid basis for proceedings.
‘Shimmer’ is a catchy melody and McCall’s solo reflects the title in its glistening runs, while McCall and Slater feature on ‘Luminous’.
McCall opens ‘Sugar Hill Picnic’ with a piano fragment inspired by Zwartz’s parents, both classical musicians, before moving into a gospellish theme. Greening takes a storming muted solo and the piece climaxes with a Mingus-like collective improvisation.
There is no need for solos on ‘Peter Jones’, a gorgeous Ellingtonian ballad, with McCall splashing colours around the horns.
In ‘Icelandik’ Zwartz paints an aural portrait of a vision impairment in which the world appears as snow. His arco bass underlies a beautiful yet chilling horn line.
‘Henry’s Highlife’ evokes memories of 1960s London with its jaunty theme. Maegraith cuts loose with a soul-drenched solo before Greening swaggers through a raunchy contribution.
A slower version, ‘Henry Variation’, finds Slater, Maegraith and Magnusson in top form.
The album wraps up with a lengthy tribute to Curtis Mayfield, opened by McCall on the Rhodes and followed with fine solos from Wilson and Greening.
Five years since his widely-acclaimed The Sea, which included several members of the current band, Zwartz has come up with another superb album.
Jonathan Zwartz, double bass; Barney McAll, piano; Hamish Stuart, drums; Phil Slater, trumpet; Julien Wilson, tenor saxophone; James Greening, trombone; Richard Maegraith, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Steve Magnusson, guitar; Fabian Hevia, percussion.