Meraki – Meraki
(Ubuntu Music. Review by Amy Sibley-Allen)
The self-titled debut album from North Yorkshire-born composer and pianist Jacky Naylor’s trio Meraki is certainly music for the soul. Meraki (μεράκι) is the Greek concept for ‘the creativity or love you put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.’ There couldn’t be a more apt description of the emotive compositions and accomplished musicianship featured.
Originating from Naylor’s desire to produce complex contemporary jazz, and inspired by the sounds of great European jazz trios, he’s created something truly special with bassist Nick Jurd and drummer Jonathan Silk. Although he has written and recorded his own compositions before, such as the suite Rough Boundaries for Birmingham Jazz Orchestra in 2016 and Industrial for his sextet in 2019, Naylor has really found an outlet here to collaborate and further explore his original music.
Four years in the making, and recorded after their tour in 2019, the album has a pace and energy evident from the off with the tangled and sophisticated grooves on the opening track 9 Lives, followed closely by 43 which instantly accelerates before twisting and ebbing throughout with tumbling piano runs. Sherpa’s driving grooves showcase Jurd’s and Silk’s skills, whilst Jurd’s arco bass provides a compelling edge to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Despite the energy in these pieces, the overarching sentiment of the album is still somehow delicate and reflective – the two simple, but charming, interludes play some part in this, providing space between tracks. The use of minor keys adds a pensive edge to Two Sides of the Same Coin and In a Sailing Boat – which captures the lulls and more turbulent moments of being at sea perfectly. Simple Things completes an exquisite album, a gentle and graceful track – perhaps a reminder to find moments of beauty in challenging times.
There are accompanying videos to tracks Interlude 2, 9 Lives and Simple Things, which are definitely worth watching. The video for Simple Things was produced by Naylor himself and Interlude 2 and 9 Lives by David Stanley. Visuals are clearly important to the trio and Sophie MacKenzie’s cover artwork provides a wonderful depiction of the jazz club – and if you can spot them, some clues to the track’s titles.
Meraki is released on Ubuntu Music on 28 August 2020