Just as the album’s title is both brooding and punning, so the music is in a constant flux of what, were it writing, we would call ‘tone’. Grabowsky can seem to create a pastiche of an idiom out of which a deep truth will grow in the improvising, while a more solemn-sounding piece will spawn sly asides and dramatic jolts from the players, or perhaps contain an unexpectedly curdled harmony.
Milman’s pieces tend to ride on slippery Afro and Latin grooves, have inbuilt airiness and be laced with lyrical melodies. Who better to breathe life into such material than Bukovsky (trumpet, flugelhorn), James Greening (trombone, trumpet, pocket trumpet), Jeremy Sawkins (guitars), Alister Spence (piano) and Fabian Hevia (drums, percussion)?
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.
‘…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.’
‘…catchy themes, tight arrangements and some excellent solos.’
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.
‘a strange and beautiful world conjured among the bricks and grime, the litter and the 7-11 stores’
It can all shimmer and ripple like an ambient cloud, underpinned by a deep oscillation from Zwartz’s bowed bass under trills and pings from Dewhurst’s guitar, before bursting forward with irresistible momentum.
His ideas are clear and strong, and deceptively simple motifs unfold and develop in unexpected ways, always maintaining the listener’s interest. Suite SIMA is a model of how to write for a medium-sized jazz ensemble that will provide student composers and arrangers with many lessons and lots of inspiration.
‘This innovative band continues to leave audiences dancing out of their gigs…’