The other side of being back on my blog is writing something about the recordings musicians occasionally send me. That’s been a real pleasure, if also a cause for some misgivings on my part for failing to find the time to add a word or two about them. Here’s a quick round -up then of three, all UK based bands, a couple of them from the ever creative scene here in Bristol/ Bath.
Jim Blomfield Trio – Strange Beauty (Every Way OK). Bristol scene stalwart Blomfield is often seen burning in a variety of post bop settings, or blowing the roof of in any number of latin ensembles, but his own writing reveals another side, drawing on modern and contemporary classical music as well as jazz. Released a few months ago, Jim’s second album with this trio develops his use of looping, shifting grooves, frequently rhapsodic and flowing piano figures, changes of gear and mood, all of which carry the listener along. Mark Whitlam on drums and Tosh Wijetunge in bass are locked in tight providing by turns rocky, funky, stop start beats and atmospherics. They’ve woven in plenty of electronics and effects to great effect. It has an entirely natural feel, sounding like Jim’s distinctive conception with richer textures and atmospheres. It’s a really good album. Check it out/ buy here
John Pearce – Just Friends. Another Bristol based released, violinist John Pearce earned his spurs being trained and performing in the classical world, but has been indulging his love of jazz with incendiary performances around Bristol and beyond for a few years now. This debut is a standards set, from Just Friends via Caravan, Stompin’ at the Savoy, Lester Leaps In and more, the flag is firmly planted. Recorded with regular collaborators of the highest quality, Dave Newton is on piano, Will Harris on bass and Ian Matthews, taking a break from duties with Kasabian, swinging like crazy at the drums. It’s a scintillating session and it’s easy to see why Pearce is so warmly received by live audiences. There are a few individual twists that make this a bit special. Newton and Pearce stretch and swirl around each other on an intro to Alice in Wonderland conjuring an electric atmosphere, Pearce’s phrasing make the most of his roots; Joy Spring get’s a back beat and a Fender/ Electric piano solo. Check it out and get your copy here.
Babelfish – Once Upon A Tide. Babelfish are back and on top form. Brigitte Beraha and pianist Barry Green write most of the material, with a dip into Henry Purcell for Dido and Ellington/ Strayhorn for Pretty Girl. They are utterly individual and with Chris Laurence on bass and the peer-less Paul Clarvis on drums and percussion they float effortlessly through atmospherics, ease seamlessly into a surging a samba-like groove with joyous interval leaping melody from the vocals, or darting, melodic cascades from the piano. Then they stagger drunkenly through a stuttering stop -start, angular Green composition, drop to whisper, surge to roar, end on a delicate perfectly rendered melody. Don’t try and guess what’s coming next. Get a copy (here or here), listen and enjoy. Then listen again.