CD review

Red Kite – “Theory of Colours”

Red Kite – Theory of Colours
(Jellymould JJ028. CD Review by Peter Jones)

This one arrived unheard of and unasked for, and it goes to show what joys you can sometimes discover in such circumstances. Theory of Colours, recorded in London with a sextet of pan-European musicians, is a rather other-worldly, meditative collection that merits close attention – proper listening, in other words. While the album has affinities with the ECM school of modern jazz, it’s also a fascinating mélange of musical styles – mostly jazz, but also electronica, Euro-minimalism, some elements of modern serial music and even a hint of reggae. In fact, it’s so varied that you almost start to worry about a lack of overall coherence – until, that is, you’ve heard it a few times, and also when you remember that such things don’t matter anyway. Because the important point is that every track contains an abundance of beauty and originality, with serene melodies and subtle arrangements which give plenty of scope for improvisation.

The brains behind Red Kite is pianist Esben Tjalve, who composed all the tunes. Theory of Colours begins with In Line, featuring Hannes Riepler’s abstract guitar and Ross Hughes’s bubbling bass clarinet, before a fast Philip Glass-like synth pattern kicks in, and suddenly we’re in Terje Rypdal territory, with an electronically-treated solo from trumpeter Fulvio Segurta. But then comes Interstellar, its slow, wistful melody played with an ethereal flute-like tone by Segurta, reminiscent of Arve Henrikson. The Meeting, by contrast consists mainly of a simple descending riff which the musicians then solo over. Pantomime features a gentle, rhythmic pulse in 7/4 that starts on guitar, then piano, bass and bass clarinet, its melody played on muted trumpet. Jasper Høiby excels throughout with his arco work on the bass, sometimes making it sound like a cello, and sometimes like a viola, while Tim Giles, on drums, is a sensitive, relatively muted presence, perfectly in keeping with the music.

By the way, don’t be confused if you look Red Kite up on Wikipedia, where they are described as a Norwegian jazz-prog band. That’s a different group altogether.

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