CD review

Andrew McCormack’s Graviton – The Calling

Andrew McCormack’s Graviton – The Calling
(Ubuntu Music: UBU0025CD review by Nick Davies)

The Calling is the follow-up to pianist Andrew McCormack’s 2017 album, Graviton. Your reviewer first came across McCormack on the First Light album, released in 2014. The latter and Graviton were superb and raised the bar with high expectations.

The music is written for McCormack’s band, Graviton, which features Noemi Nuti (herself an exceptional vocalist in her own right) on vocals, Josh Arcoleo on tenor saxophone, Tom Herbert on electric bass and Joshua Blackmore on drums.

The Calling is the tale of a classic hero’s journey: a call to adventure that the central character cannot avoid without devastating consequences. McCormack states: “This has been the subject of much art and music throughout history. It speaks to us all on a collective level that we can understand.”

Every track on the album tells a story that encapsulates the listener to it. The scene is either set by McCormack’s playing or by Nuti’s singing. The introduction to tunes varies with the subtle sounds of Nuti, developing the idea by using her voice, or the band takes the lead in a full frontal attack.

There are interlude songs like Urborous which lead very nicely into the next part of the story: Walled Garden. In this one, Nuti opens with the rest of the band gradually joining in. Each musician adds a bit of magic but McCormack drives the beat with great interplay from Nuti. Close your eyes and you are transported to that Walled Garden with the smells and sounds drawing you in further.

This album is more than a selection of songs, it’s is a story within a story, each one like chapter within a book. Magic Mentor, for example, tells a story of someone who mentors in magic, it is something that could be straight out of Tolkien. The track itself is another beautiful example of the band’s interplay and powerfully cinematic. It is also a fine illustration of how well McCormack the composer transitions his ideas into McCormack the band leader although this may never have been possible without the superb supporting cast.

This is the third release of McCormack’s that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and each is as good as the last. The Calling moves from subtle upbeat tracks to powerful cinematic ones. The musicianship is excellent and the vocals are an illustration of how this genre of music should be sung.

If McCormack is not considered one of the finest composers of his generation in years to come, it would be a travesty. There is a lot of talk about the renaissance of British Jazz and McCormack has to be one of the leading lights. Overall, this album’s musicality and the sheer brilliance of the surprises, makes it a must-listen for 2019.

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