CD REVIEW: Tom Arthurs Trio – One Year

Tom Arthurs Trio – One Year
(Ozella. CD Review by Peter Slavid)

It’s been clear that Tom Arthurs was going to be one of the outstanding trumpeters of his generation since his early days in London with the F-IRE collective. He became one of the first BBC New Generation Artists for jazz in 2008, and was a participant in the Serious career development schemes ‘Take Five’ and ‘Take Five Europe’.

After moving to Berlin and becoming embedded in the innovative jazz scene there, and then getting his PhD, Tom has recently been appointed as artistic leader of the Jazz and Contemporary Music department at Hochschule der Künste, Bern

This new CD, One Year, features long-time collaborator Richard Fairhurst on piano and Finnish percussionist Markku Ounaskari. In style it expands from the duo album with Fairhurst, Postcards from Pushkin. This is delicate chamber jazz, very intimate and intricate.

The music is slow but compelling. It builds from delicate sounds that suck you in, before short, sharp explosions appear much louder and faster than they really are. In some ways this isn’t conventional jazz at all, rhythms and harmonies are constantly shifting but always subtle. This could easily be a classical composition, and yet it clearly is jazz in the degree of improvisation, the way the artists interact and play off each other, not to mention the sound of Arthur’s trumpet which gets more like Kenny Wheeler every year.

The title track is a good example. The first two minutes comprise a series of individual notes and chords played slowly with long gaps between them as they are allowed to fade to silence. These eventually resolve into a more conventional trio sound with the trumpet improvisation soaring over the piano and drums. By the end of the track a delightful melody has emerged which slows to a conclusion.

This is definitely music that grows on you. It benefits from a second and third listening by which time you’ll be hooked. What may start out seeming too delicate, gradually seeps into the brain and the subtle shifts become more prominent and absorbing, and let you fully appreciate the exquisite playing.

Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Modern Jazz on thejazz.co.uk and mixcloud.com/ukjazz

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