CD review

Patchwork Jazz Orchestra – “The Light That Shines”

Patchwork Jazz Orchestra – The Light That Shines
(SPARK009. Download Review by Jon Turney)

Hard to detach this nice release from the circumstances of its production. Fears that the future of recorded jazz under lockdown lies only with small groups can be laid to rest. This enterprising bunch have put together new work for a 17-piece big band, rehearsing and performing remotely.

The method is interesting. The composer or arranger of each of the five pieces here recorded a click track, sent to the rhythm section players to lay down their first contributions. These formed a backdrop for the lead and then section players to record their bits, and then the soloists added suitable improvisations. Then, cleverly, the rhythm players had a second go, responding to the ensemble.

All this had to happen in the living rooms, home studios (and in one case back yard) of Patchwork’s dispersed array of some of the UK’s most promising young players – with a guest contribution from Gareth Lockrane on one track. So congrats to whoever had to manage version control during all of that. The good news is that this route does achieve something like the interaction you’d get if all the players assembled in a studio. From the ticking groove that kicks off Misha Mullov-Abbado’s New Ansonia, through the full ensemble making their presence felt over the next nine minutes, it’s clear all the technical apparatus delivers and the listener can just focus on the music.

It works creatively, too. Of the two covers, Tom Green’s arrangement of Fred Hersch’s Endless Stars is pleasingly Jobimesque, while Kieran McLeod offers a neat straight ahead take on If I Were a Bell. The other two originals are more modern in inspiration. Billy MarrowsGenmiacha tips a hat to Loose Tubes; Tom Smith’s title track, The Light that Shines, is a gospel anthem Carla Bley might have written for Gary Valente. All the soloists contribute in kind, giving us an upbeat response to troubling times, and Mullov-Abbado’s bass stands out all the way through.

Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol. https://jonturney.co.uk/  Twitter: https://twitter.com/jonWturney

In keeping with the project, the recording is download only. The title track video is freely available on YouTube.

The Light that Shines at Spark Records

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