Jack Davies writes:
This Wednesday February 8th, saxophonist Josh Arcoleo will launch his debut album, “Beginnings” at the Vortex in Dalston. Josh is the first ever winner of the Kenny Wheeler Prize – a new award from the Royal Academy of Music in conjunction with Edition Records which has culminated in the release of this record.
Josh is one of the most compelling saxophonists in London, and as a sideman he is an integral part of many of the capital’s finest bands. He can be found playing as part of a troika of tenors in Joe Wright’s Octet, effortlessly soaring over drummer Dave Hamblett’s sextet, sparring with James Allsopp in Kit Downes’ sextet, sitting next to his former teacher Stan Sulzmann in Sulzmann’s own big band and fronting the great Jeff William’s new quartet.
However, Wednesday will see Josh leading out his own first class band of Ivo Neame on piano, bassist Calum Gourlay and drummer James Maddren. It was at the Vortex that Josh won the Kenny Wheeler Prize, then with a trio without Neame on piano. The music was open, with each of the musicians nudging each other onwards with a ferocious intensity, Josh himself pushing and pulling his tenor with a joyful fearlessness. The tracks on “Beginnings” are all his own compositions, and this record will be the first in a significant catalogue to come.
It is pleasing that this award has gone to someone who represents the very best of young British jazz. Josh’s playing is educated but never restrained, informed but never stifled. The fashionable myth that music college creates cloned musical mannequins is proved to be a laughable fallacy.
There’s much talk about what the state of British jazz is and what its future might be, but if you really want to know, head to the Vortex on Wednesday.