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CD Review: Sam Crowe Group – Towards the Centre of  Everything

Sam Crowe Group – Towards the Centre of Everything
(Whirlwind Records WR4632. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Although US musicians Alan Hampton (bass) and Mark Guilianahave replaced Jasper Høiby and Dave Smith respectively on this, pianist/composer Sam Crowe’s second album, the ‘healthy mix of contemporary jazz sounds’ his quintet aim to produce remains unchanged from 2009’s Synaesthesia (F-IRE CD-31).

Crowe writes brisk, airy, but deceptively powerful music, energetically bustling enough to catch the ear but containing enough harmonic and rhythmic wrinkles to engage the brain; over the rhythm section’s NY drive and crackle (the album was actually recorded in Brooklyn in 2012), saxophonists Will Vinson(alto) and Adam Waldmann (soprano) alternately provide bright but robust solos, while guitarist Will Davies is fluent and supple.

Crowe is a former recipient of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency programme (which recognises and nurtures promising jazz talent, as its eponymous founder used to do so effectively via her various bands of young upcoming players), and there is a suitably peppy elegance discernible in his ten compositions for this engaging album; one of his debut recording’s highlights ‘The Global Brain’ receives another enjoyable workout, otherwise the material, from the arresting opening title-track, through the suitably thoughtful ‘Gaia’, to ‘Back into the Earth’featuring the vocals of Emilia Mårtensson, is all new, and as fresh as paint.

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