CD review

Rebecca Nash/ Atlas – Peaceful King

Rebecca Nash/ Atlas – Peaceful King
(Whirlwind WR4748. CD review by Mike Collins) 

With Peaceful King, pianist and keys player Rebecca Nash has produced an assured and distinctive debut. Her band Atlas has been appearing sporadically in the clubs of various UK cities with an evolving repertoire and mutating cast list for a few years now, and this collection of eight originals has the feel of a confident and matured voice. The extended gestation has been worth the wait.

The band represents musical relationships formed between Bristol, Cardiff, London and Birmingham. Trumpeter Nick Malcolm and drummer Matt Fisher are ever present with bass man and electronics wizard Chris Mapp. Sumptuous vocals from Sara Coleman and guitar from Thomas Seminar Ford add further colour. The music draws on Nash’s personal musical connections that extend well beyond jazz. Dipping into the album you’re as likely to land on a James Taylor or Joni Mitchell-like cadence with Colman’s velvet vocals, as a crunching rock groove, skittering drum’n bass inflection from Fisher or, keening, angular trumpet lyricism from Malcolm over acerbic piano chords.

The title track opens with a lilting keyboard riff skipping over atmospheric electronics, that’s then layered over with rich chords and snappy grooving drums that buoy up a declamatory trumpet melody. Chris Mapp pulls out a lovely fluid bass solo. Tumbleweed is a hectic rocky episode opening out for exploratory and fizzing solos from sparkling electric piano and then trumpet. Hot Wired, Grace and Dreamer all showcase Colman’s vocal and Nash’s way with a lyric. These are well crafted pieces with tight, sophisticated grooves, textural episodes with, guitar and trumpet twisting around each other, and some just-so reflective piano solos, uncoiling into lyrical flights from Nash. Little Light showcases Malcolm’s expressive trumpet playing, squeals and bending phrases settling into a subdued phrase and Ford building a thoughtful, affecting solo. Inishbobin closes the set with a throbbing pulse, crashing drums and tumultuous climax.

Care and musical judgment has been lavished on the set, with effects and electronic textures never intrusive but woven naturally into the arrangements. This is a rich and varied set that repays repeated listening.

Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bath, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter @jazzyblogman

LINK: Peaceful King will be launched as part of Women in Jazz at the Sebright Arms in Coate Street London E2 on 20 November 2019

Categories: CD review

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