The band needs to be extraordinary to navigate Sugg’s remarkable compositions and bring them to vivid life – each tune is completely owned by the ensemble; the ensemble playing and solos leap from the speakers with a rush of blood and fire.
The band has ruled the roost at Balmain’s Unity Hall Hotel forever and Walkin’ Shoes – Dan Barnett’s seventh album – captures all the life and spark of those great gigs and of vocalist/trombonist Barnett’s larger-than-life musical personality.
Manzanza’s vision is one of virtuosic precision which never enslaves the groove – a very African approach: complex yet irresistable.
Tim Rollinson’s ‘Nitty Gritty’ calls to mind John Scofield’s enormously successful Scofield Au Go Go of a few years back and in many ways comes from the same place: a love of groove and the improvisational ideas which flower from the deep earth of funk
I am happy to say the new Divergence Jazz Orchestra album – cheekily and tartly titled Fake It Until You Make It – is here. And I want to shout about it.
As assured and fully-formed as The Opening Statement was, the three years between it and the new one has added an even greater depth and daring to Jenna Cave’s writing and the band’s entirely apt and sympathetic reading (in all senses) of her charts.
The music is located somewhere to the north-east of jazz but definitely south-south-west of European art music. The quartet grew out of Daley’s larger ‘Sanctuary’ project, yet retains that ensemble’s unique breadth of vision, and intricate interweaving of composed and improv elements.
Andy Fiddes’ writing shines as bright as Tinkler’s playing. The range of colours, the breadth of ideas – so many audacious chances taken, chances that all work beautifully – the mastery of the idiom: pushing the big idea of The Big Band forward while deeply knowing its traditions (you can hear echoes of the history all across Fiddes vs Tinkler).
Schwing writes: “When standing at the Neck I see/hear the environment along a pitch scale. Or a colour scale.”
Keller’s harmonic sense throughout seems to have its own logic, following its path to places, once arrived at, are just where we want to be. Like all valid jazz writing, her compositional language seems to suit the soloists just fine, too.
It sounds odd, and yet one of the most attractive attributes of Golden’s music is its un-jazzness. And the new work takes this further into new timbres.