CD review

Laura Jurd – Stepping Back, Jumping In

Laura Jurd – Stepping Back, Jumping In
(Edition. EDN1131. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)

Laura Jurd‘s new CD is a rich, eclectic mix of styles. Working with collaborators new and old – Jurd’s band mates from Dinosaur are all there – she’s combined jazz instrumentation with a string quartet and some more exotic instruments. The different elements are woven together to produce something novel and exciting.

Jurd’s clear, ringing trumpet tone is still there, as evocative as ever, although she plays less trumpet than might be expected. Instead, her writing and arrangements are to the fore. Three of Jurd’s compositions are interspersed between pieces by Elliott Galvin, who plays piano on the record, Soosan Lolavar, who plays santoor (a dulcimer-like instrument), and Anja Laudval & Heidi K. Johannesdottir; Laudval plays synthesisers and electronics in the band.

The strings are provided by The Ligeti Quartet. They add depth and texture to the compositions, several of which have an episodic, suite-like form as different sections of the 14-piece band are featured. Jump Cut Shuffle features the Ligeti Quartet exclusively, and demonstrates Jurd’s capacity for writing contemporary-classical music.

The other tracks feature the whole ensemble. Jurd jumps in with Jumping In, with all the diverse elements featuring. Rob Luft picks at the banjo in unison with Jurd’s trumpet, bringing a touch of Americana; later they complement each other with intricate lines. Drummers Corrie Dick and Liz Exell have an unruly duet over some long chords from the Ligeti Quartet, followed by stuttering piano, electronics and santoor, producing an eerie feel.

Laudval & Johannesdottir’s Companion Species is perhaps the most jazz-infused track; Jurd’s trumpet playing is at its Miles-like best (Miles Ahead era, if you’re asking, evoking hints of Gil Evans, too). The strings play pizzicato as trombone (Raphael Clarkson on this track; Alex Patton takes his place on two tunes), euphonium (Martin Lee Thomson), guitar (Luft) and Laudval’s synthesizers swirl about. In full flow, the result brought to mind the multifaceted swing of Andy Sheppard’s Soft on the Inside big band, including another touch of anarchic percussion from the drummers.

Lolavar’s piece, I Am The Spring, You Are The Earth, is almost minimalist, with long, slowly changing notes from the ensemble which build in intensity until reaching a thundering crescendo, before subsiding leaving the subtle time tones of Lauvdal’s keyboard. The result is powerful and affecting.

Stepping Back closes the record, and brings back many of the elements heard earlier. Jurd adds a pastoral folk touch with a repeated piano line and a duet for trumpet and trombone that brings to mind the sound of the pipes. The string quartet brings a hint of mystery.

Stepping Back, Jumping In was commissioned by Kings Place in London, and clearly marks a new development in Jurd’s work. The musicians bring the compositions to life. The wealth of styles and influences could have jarred, but instead the album feels lively and presents a cohesive vision.

Laura Jurd’s Stepping Back, Jumping In is released on 19 July.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

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