Neon Quartet – Subjekt
(Edition Records EDN1036. CD Review by Chris Parker)
The music produced by the Neon Quartet is at once muscular and thoughtful, rich and subtle, its four members bouncing ideas off each other with infectious enjoyment.
Over the characteristically assertive but sensitive drumming of Tim Giles and the careful shadings and textures of Kit Downes’s piano and Hammond, saxophonist Stan Sulzmann is – as always – both burly and sinewy, his tenor (and occasional soprano) simply bursting from the vigorous ensemble sound, his energy tempered by musicianly grace; vibraphonist Jim Hart’s cascading but measured solos provide welcome textural and dynamic contrast.
The album’s six pithy, rousing original compositions are by Downes, Sulzmann and Hart, but a particular highlight is a delightful version of Monk’s classic ‘Bye- Ya’, which brings out all Downes’s suitably idiosyncratic soloing skills after an intriguing solo introductory excursion.
The quartet began life as ‘Neon’, a band comprising Sulzmann, Hart and pianist Gwilym Simcock; since replacing the latter with Downes and adding Giles, the band has honed its absorbing, elegant but forceful sound into a subtly interactive bustle that promises much from their live performances; overall, this is an impressive collective effort from an accomplished set of world-class musicians and yet another classy album from Edition.