Ronan Perrett Trio – Who Owns the Sky?
(Fresh Sound New Talent – FSNT 634. CD review by Graham Spry)
Cornish-born and London-based alto saxophonist Ronan Perrett has been an active member of London’s jazz scene for several years, both as a sideman and as leader of TwoSpeak, a jazz quartet that was a finalist at the international Jazz Juniors Competition 2021 in Kraków, Poland. Following this, TwoSpeak has festival appearances in Spain later this year and Perrett has signed to the prestigious Fresh Sound New Talent record label, following in the footsteps of Bad Plus, Robert Glasper and Alex Hitchcock. The resulting record is Who Owns the Sky? with the Ronan Perrett Trio where Perrett is joined by two players who have known each other since secondary school days, Ferg Ireland on bass and James Maddren on drums.
In the stripped-down setting of a saxophone trio, the melodies and tunes very much rest on Perrett’s shoulders. Fortunately, he has risen to this challenge on an album of varied music and even more diverse influences. It’s both a boon and a burden for young musicians to be able to mine influences from so many years of rich musical history, including, in Perrett’s case, such uncompromising titans of jazz as Chris Speed, Anthony Braxton, Tim Berne and Ornette Coleman. Nevertheless, the saxophone sound is confidently Perrett’s own. It is generally melodic and fluid, sometimes free, and interacts well with his exceptional rhythm section.
Ireland and Maddren have played together before in the same format with alto saxophonist Nathaniel Facey on the Ferg Ireland Trio’s self-titled album in 2019. Like Perrett, Ireland has worked as a sideman on many bands and projects in London, but it is Maddren whose contribution makes all the difference. He is the perfect drummer in a trio setting, having proven his worth in bands led by the likes of Gwilym Simcock and Kit Downes.
It’s not just musicians who influence Perrett, as evidenced from the eclectic reading list on his website. Some songs are inspired by contemporary debates on climate change, child development and the future of humanity (such as All the Time Engaged in Fantasy, Ten Futures and the title track) whilst others draw their inspiration from the very process of making music together as an ensemble (What We Bring and Snapperjacks). Phantoms, a track dedicated to free jazz icon, Albert Ayler, is reprised in the final track Quiet Phantoms. Throughout the album, Perrett’s earnest concerns are lightened by an ironic and sometimes even humorous approach.
This is a satisfying album which marks a culmination of Perrett’s formative years and represents a step towards a wider audience. As displayed by the abstract art on the record cover by Adriana Jaros, it’s clear that Perrett isn’t tempted to compromise his musical vision.
The Ronan Perrett Trio is currently on tour in England, featuring bassists Huw Williams and Andrea Di Biase and drummers Jay Davis and Ben Brown, and the album launch will be at Pizza Express, Dean Street on 24 August.
LINK: Ronan Perrett’s website
Categories: Album review