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Laura Jurd Ensemble at the 2022 Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Laura Jurd Ensemble

(Parabola Arts Centre Cheltenham Jazz Festival, 1 May 2022. Review by Peter Slavid)

Laura Jurd Ensemble. Photo copyright John Watson/ jazzcamera.co.uk

Composer, keyboard player and most of all a sublime trumpet player, Laura Jurd is constantly experimenting with the boundaries of jazz. Her 2019 album Stepping Back, Jumping In revisited the work with strings she first embarked on in her debut album Landing Ground from 2012; the latter has proved to be among her best work and has stood the test of time.

As well as the string quartet, Laura – on this occasion playing cornet – was joined by her regular collaborators pianist Elliot Galvin, bass player Conor Chaplin and drummer Corrie Dick. The stellar ensemble is completed by guitarist Rob Luft, Trombonist Raphael Clarkson and Martin Lee Thomson on euphonium.

Laura Jurd Ensemble. Photo copyright John Watson/ jazzcamera.co.uk

Originally commissioned by Kings Place in London, compositions were by Jurd, Elliot Galvin and Anja Lauvdal, who had appeared on the original album playing synths. The album also featured a number of other musicians, unusual instruments and electronics, but they weren’t missed here.

The music is constantly shifting in style and rhythm, with classical sounds giving way to free improvisation, jazz solos over pizzicato strings, powerful solos over simple riffs and harsh blasts of brass over intricate ones.

The album has been described elsewhere as discombobulating – it fits. This is edgy, inventive and unconventional music in the best sense of the word.

Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Jazz on mixcloud.com/ukjazz and various internet stations

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