The Wild Flower Sextet – Wildflower
(Jellymould Jazz JM-JJ017. Review by Peter Jones)
For a dying art-form, an old man’s game…modern British jazz certainly has a lot of brilliant young practitioners. Here’s another example of this welcome trend – Matt Anderson, leader of the Wild Flower Sextet, only graduated from Leeds College of Music in 2010 (with a First, natch). His band includes the extremely talented Laura Jurd on trumpet. All the members are also busy with numerous projects of their own.
According to its self-description, the sextet plays ‘original music inspired by the sound and approach of jazz legend Wayne Shorter, alongside new arrangements of classic and lesser-known Shorter compositions.’ The band’s name, of course, refers to a tune on Shorter’s Speak No Evil. One measure of how well they have succeeded in their mission is that this reviewer at least found himself repeatedly checking which tunes were Anderson’s and which were Shorter’s. For the record, the latter’s included here are Masqualero, which first appeared on Miles Davis’s Sorcerer album, and again on ESP; Fall (recorded for Miles’s Nefertiti); Three Clowns (from Weather Report’s Black Market) and Lester Left Town (from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ 1960 album The Big Beat). Slightly odd to call some of these ‘lesser-known’, but no matter – the band’s interpretations are cool and assured.
The album kicks off with a salute to the Sextet’s eminence grise: Blues for Wayne is a shuffle with a toe-tapping opening groove, followed by fluent solos from guitarist Alex Munk, tenor saxophonist Anderson and drummer Sam Gardner, who particularly shines here. Jurd gets her first proper outing on Sfumato, a bop-type tune with echoes of Freddie Hubbard. Piano and guitar often work together to powerful harmonic effect, particularly on the intros to tunes such as Blues for Wayne, Masqualero and J.G.. This approach complements the lines played jointly by Anderson and Jurd. Munk’s inclusion in what would otherwise be a classic quintet adds depth and tonal variety to band’s sound. Wildflower is an accessible and richly melodic album of great warmth and sophistication.
The album comes out on 9th March, and the band is currently nearing the end of a UK tour:
26 February Northampton Contemporary Jazz (Castle Theatre, Wellingborough)
27 February Birmingham Jazz (Red Lion, Birmingham)