CD: The Hour of Pearl, Philip Clouts Quartet

HourofPearl Pianist Philip Clouts lives in Dorset. The inspirations and influences in the music span continents however, and the quartet has a trio of London’s finest in the shape of Carlos Lopez-Real on saxes and Alex Keen and Jon Desbruslais on bass and drums respectively.  The spirit of Africa and Cape jazz  animates much of the original material, acknowledging the leader’s roots, even when the grooves are more calypso like or funky.  Riptide opens the album with a rolling 12/8 feel hinting at afro-jazz. On West Hill wouldn’t sound out of place in an Abdullah Ibrahim set even with a nod in the direction of New Orleans from the shuffling drum groove. Flamingo-ing has a flavour of the Cape in the joyful melody over a calypso like vamp.  It all gives the album an appealing jaunty air with Loz-Real’s sax and Clouts right hand on piano blending nicely to harmonise attractive melodies and catchy hooks.  The soloing is fluent and up beat with plenty of bluesey inflections and block chords from the piano.  The second half of the collection introduces a more contemplative emotional atmosphere with the waltz Clef Mona  having a romantic  inflection to the melody and Lopez Real sounding free and lyrical on his solo with a big a emotional punch. ‘As Evening Falls’  has a gentle latin groove and Clouts’ spacious solo creates atmosphere and tension.  This is an album with bounce and variety and some really affecting moments.  The quartet is touring through October and November with an album launch at Pizza Express.

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