Matt Chandler – Astrometrics
(33 Jazz 33JAZZ261. Review by Jeanie Barton)
As the title may imply, East Midlands-raised, London-based guitarist and composer Matt Chandler has hit new heights with his latest release Astrometrics, his first album for 33 Jazz Records, and his third as leader. While retaining his retro cool-dude vibe (and no doubt his leather jacket) Chandler brings some cosmic elements to this record – not least the stellar team of esteemed organist Ross Stanley and Eric Ford on drums.
They perform Chandler’s funky bebop-enthused originals which include some rather ‘out there’ sci-fi sound effects – it is hard to separate the organ and guitar with some of the effects pedals that are employed, the blend is such that they are like a mass of sound wafting along – like stardust in the milky way?
Anyway enough of the Lost in Space imagery! Did you know Astrometrics is an anagram of Matt, Ross & Eric? Clever! The hand written album sleeve (complete with one-eyed space creature doodle) gives a clue as to the audio experiments contained within – I’m not sure this is the Intricate Façade track 5 refers to but it does sound quite trippy – almost like Pink Floyd. However it retains a bebop pace in parts and is an epic of almost nine minutes.
The other tracks are lengthy also, inviting fluid interplay between the participants, who are fairly equally represented in terms of solos, however the ensemble’s style is such that they do not stand apart from one another (rather, slightly protrude from the trio to catch some rays). While all tracks are credited as written by the leader, I get the feeling a lot is created on the fly by them all. The syncopated changes of groove and tempo mid-track in Scene of No Scene, plus other numbers, tells me this was an organic live-record process – their collective listening and reacting is an exciting ride.
5 Bar Short also features on Chandler’s previous release, It Goes Like This, where it is played alongside Tony Kofi – it’s nice to hear a different interpretation of this composition (he appears to have created a standard). This time the guitarist plays the catchy melody alone; the Latin and swing sections bounce back and forth with vigour, acting as an excellent outline for improvisation by both Stanley and Chandler and the eight-bar modulation provides an extra launch pad for new fun.
Chandler weaves a merry web over The Sting – he has the lightest touch, so much so that I can imagine him nailing The Flight of the Bumblebee. Stanley also maximises the organ as a melodic, harmonic and percussive instrument in this and all outings – together, they take numbers right down to their bare bones and then up to earth-clattering crescendos ably anchored and encouraged by Ford.
I highly recommend you too take this cosmic trip.