Phoenician Blinds – The Sight, The Seer and The Seen
(Self-Released. Review by Nick Davies)
It was the name of the band that caught your reviewer’s eye, an interest that was sustained and enhanced by the music they perform; Phoenician Blinds are a band that deliver melodious wonder in each song. They have spent a considerable amount of time honing their craft, appeared in venues such as the Jazz Café, where they recently supported Eric Truffaz, and have two previous releases under their belt.
The ensemble comprises Julian Knapp on tenor and soprano saxophones, Tom Sochas on piano, Rhodes and synths, Oli Cross on electric bass and Filippo Giangrande on drums. As the band’s publicity states, there are indeed elements of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Brad Mehldau, Avishai Cohen and Mark Guiliana. If one closes one’s eyes and imagines all of the aforementioned, but with a Pan-European twist, one finds Phoenician Blinds. Different and incredibly special.
The title of any album is intended to create interest; The Sight, The Seer and The Seen delivers in buckets. In explanation, the band states: “Though the name draws from a spiritual and philosophical source, what caught our eye was the concept of perspective and how it relates to the current state of our world. One which seems to attest to both a certain loss of perspective and a significant shift towards a more sustainable future. This was equally important to us as our musical form is all about interaction and improvisation.” Listening to their music, the shift in perspective, interaction and improvisation is apparent. The band has a clever knack of integrating each instrument to provide a seamless end-to-end dimension.
Bodana Bazi, the opener, starts with the piano, electric bass, drums and saxophone. As the tune – the title means means ‘Like a bird flying’ in Persian – intensifies, the sax intervenes and blows savage overtones an there is a deliberately quite sudden hiatus. Then follows a contrasting episode at a much slower tempo but it really works. Overall, a really good start to an album that does not disappoint.
The following tracks have an infectious way of driving the beat, whether a single instrument seems to lead it, or all the band. Either way, it conjures a combination of modern jazz enlivened by a funky beat. That’s just the start. True improvisers, Phoenician Blinds bring a surprise element to every track, the key to their success is their ability to make it seamless, taking the listener on an adventure every time.
If this release is anything to go by, Phoenician Blinds will have a foothold in the industry for some time. Albums that take people by surprise are often the most enjoyable and The Sight, The Seer and The Seen is a prime example, with something for every jazz listener. This release sets the bar really high and, I suspect, difficult to displace from any ‘top ten’.