Album reviews

Artie Zaitz/Mark Kavuma, Cath Roberts/Olie Brice, Will Glaser/Matt Herd/Alex Bonney

Zaitz & Kavuma – Back to Back (The Banger Factory)

Cath Roberts & Olie Brice – Conduits (Relative Pitch Records)

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Will Glaser with Matthew Herd and Alex Bonney – Climbing In Circles Pt 4 (limitedNOISE)

Album and EP reviews by Tony Dudley-Evans

These three albums reveal something of the variety of the current UK scene; Zaitz and Kavuma are part of the young scene, the new wave, and, as with many of the bands on that scene, lean towards the more mainstream end of the spectrum,. but do so with a number of twists. The Roberts and Brice album is a totally improvised set, but done over the internet during the lockdown period.  The Will Glaser album is extremely eclectic, and covers many bases. It is also significant that the lockdown has had an effect on certainly two of these albums, and probably even the third.

LINK: Bandcamp

Zaitz & Kavuma – Back To Back

Artie Zaitz is mostly known as a guitarist, and Mark Kavuma is mostly known as a trumpet player, but here Zaitz only plays Hammond Organ, and Kavuma mostly plays either a Wurlitzer electric piano or an acoustic piano, though he does play trumpet on one track.  Apparently the recording resulted from their jamming together on those alternative instruments during lockdown; here they are given very strong support by William Cleasby on the drums.

Most of the tracks present nicely swinging straightahead jazz; Lockdown Blues is perhaps the most engaging track with Zaitz on the Hammond interacting with Kavuma on the Wurlitzer piano and then later on acoustic piano.  This creates an attractive funky bluesy mood.  Church also has a good funky and gospelly feel starting with Kavuma on the acoustic piano before Zaitz comes in on the Hammond.  Mia’s Waltz is the track where Kavuma plays trumpet creating a gentle, rather melancholy mood.  They also vary the repertoire with the inclusion of two Monk tunes, Evidence and Round Midnight.

Cath Roberts and Olie Brice Conduits

The music on this album was improvised from baritone saxophonist Roberts’ and bassist Brice’s homes in London and Hastings respectively in real time over the internet using the JackTrip program.  The tracks are totally improvised but broken down into three tracks of between 8.37 and 11.15 minutes in length and creating different moods.

It’s interesting that improvisers playing live often prefer to play a straight through set without a break, whereas for a recording session they will usually break up the set into different pieces. 

The music is extremely interactive, and both players are clearly listening intently, and reacting to what the other is doing, no doubt an aspect of improvised music reinforced here by the fact of Roberts and Brice playing over the internet.  On Pipework Roberts creates long flowing lines with the occasional growl on the baritone sax and Brice reacts.  Roberts also reacts to what Brice plays and there is a nice ebb and flow in the music.  Peering begins quite dramatically and continues in this mood with Brice playing bowed bass for most of the track.  Buoyancy Chamber has a gentler, more melodic approach with Roberts again creating flowing lines with the occasional growl.  This is improvised music at its best with two musicians interacting brilliantly with each other in a duo format. 

LINK: Bandcamp

Will Glaser with Matthew Herd and Alex Bonney – Climbing In Circles Pt 4

Will Glaser’s Climbing in Circles is an ongoing project that has developed over the previous parts 1 – 3 from a duo with saxophonist Matt Herd in Pt 1, to a trio with Liam Noble in Pts 2 and 3 to to this Pt 4 where Glaser expands the project to make effective use of working with Alex Bonney in the studio to create a wider range of music.  Matt Herd is still very much involved and his sound and solos remain a key element in the mix.

The album is top and tailed with Beginnings and Endings, both gentle, contemplative with a touch of nostalgia;  Beginnings features acoustic piano with a touch of birdsong at the beginning and a light touch of electronics at the end, whereas Endings picks up the theme of Beginnings, again featuring the piano, but adding in drums, electronic and a hint of soprano saxophone.

Stained & Fractured Glass has a mysterious atmosphere; it builds up in intensity from Herd’s initial cry on the saxophone to Bonney’s electronics. In its use of electronics it is a good example of how contemporary jazz makes use of textures rather than the soloist’s lines.

There is a huge amount of variety on the album: Of The Woods is a more straightahead dialogue between drums and saxophone without any electronics, Ballad in the Jazz Style is precisely that, and Spiral Dance has more of aspiritual feel with Herd playing soprano saxophone.  Bad Dream Machines is an exhilarating track with drums interacting with trumpet, then with the saxophone; it builds up to an intense climax with the use of electronics before winding down gently.

The notes on the album suggest that the album brings together many aspects of contemporary music: electric Miles, the melancholy of trip-hop, the streetscapes of 50s Moondog.  I hear all these, but haven’t (yet!) caught ‘the slow creaking of Gavin Bryars’ Sinking of the Titanic’! Climbing In Circles Pt 4 is a fine album.

LINK: Bandcamp


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