Yuriy Galkin Nonet – Nine of a Kind
(F-IRECD 50. CD review by Chris Parker)
The forces at composer Yuriy Galkin‘s disposal – two trumpets, trombone, three saxophones, piano, bass and drums – plus the fact that he plays bass and provides the thobbing heartbeat of the band sound, might lead to the expectation of a somewhat Mingusian rowdy rumbustiousness characterising Nine of a Kind.
Instead (although vigour and pep are vital ingredients of the album’s appeal), the seven pieces provided by Galkin for the likes of trumpeters Freddie Gavita and the late lamented Richard Turner, saxophonist Dafydd Williams et al. rely on what the Russian composer terms ‘unique instrumentation harmonising, rhythmic devices, melodic lines and counterpoints’ to enable him to ‘evolv[e] transitions from a combo-like sound to a medium-size ensemble’ and eventually expand to ‘a big-band quality’.
Accordingly, many of Galkin’s compositions uncoil slowly and naturally from relatively straightforward core ideas, their strength and cogency epitomised by the album’s opener, ‘Evolvent’, which won 2010’s Dankworth Composition Prize. The brass and reed instruments (and Tamar Osborn bring extra colour and texture to the ensemble by playing baritone, soprano and bass clarinet) are more often heard crooning sonorously than blaring or shouting, and what climaxes are reached by the nonet are, as a result, ‘earned’, emerging naturally from the slow-building, patient bustle of the band work. Carefully layered, absorbing music, enthusiastically addressed by a responsive and skilful ensemble.
The Yuriy Galkin Nonet’s next London appearance is at the Fairfield Hall in Croydon on Friday March 23rd. Yuriygalkin.com