The Cloudmakers Trio with Ralph Alessi – Live at the Pizza Express
(Whirlwind Recordings WR4625. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Vibes player Jim Hart, bassist Michael Janisch and drummer Dave Smith are three of the busiest musicians on the UK jazz scene, and this live album, which features them collaborating with US trumpeter Ralph Alessi on three originals, a band improvisation and a Monk tune (‘Bye-Ya’), demonstrates from the off just why they are in such demand.
Over Smith’s restless but whip-smart drums and Janisch’s muscular bass, Hart exploits both the percussive power and the glowing vibrancy of his instrument to provide the perfect context for Alessi’s alternately rattling and spearing trumpet.
The original material (two Hart tunes and one by Alessi) has all the savvy snap and bustle customarily associated not only with the jazz produced in Alessi’s stamping ground, New York, but also, these days, with the music issued by Whirlwind, and the band’s five-minute collective improvisation demonstrates an exemplary mutual intuitive spontaneity.
With the Monk closer underlining just how fresh and challenging the great pianist/composer’s music can still be made to sound over half a century after its composition, this is an intense, virtuosic but immediately accessible recording of four utterly compatible musicians in jostling, fierce interactive mode. A treat.
– In June 2010 Jim Hart wrote for us about looking forward to playing with Ralph Alessi
– We also reviewed the very first gig by this group at the Grey Horse in Kingston.