Album reviews

Mike Soper – ‘Undoing’

Mike Soper – Undoing

(Self-release on Bandcamp. Album review by Peter Slavid)

Trumpeter Mike Soper graduated from Trinity College almost 10 years ago. Since then he has played in everything from the trad Old Hat Jazz Band to the Bryan Ferry Orchestra to the Congolese dance influenced Kongo Dia Ntotila, as well as lots of more “conventional” modern jazz. 

He inevitably cites an eclectic range of influences from musical and other sources. This is the debut album under his own name, and in jazz terms those influences, in particular Steve Coleman and Peter Evans, can all be heard. 

He has put together an excellent team to play his compositions. The album, which is “about volition, surrender, curiosity, intuition, and freedom,” according to the virtual liner note, is produced by Laura Jurd, and two of the band, Elliot Galvin on keyboards and Tom McCredie on bass, are amongst her regular collaborators. Jay Davis on drums is another in-demand musician with a varied mix of projects.

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The compositions are interesting and melodic. The arrangements are varied in style moving through some punk, some synth, some funk and some cinematic. Sometimes the tone of the piece is set by Galvin’s keyboards, but the tracks are driven by Soper’s trumpet which can sparkle or growl at will. 

Throughout the album the drum and bass lay down complex shifting rhythms, the music often stops suddenly and restarts with a totally different feel, and they manage to make all that sound natural. 

The album starts with a funky bass rhythm over which the trumpet picks out a crisp melody. This is then taken on by Galvin’s keyboard before the trumpet comes back for an extended solo and then everyone joins in.  

The nine minute track “The Canopy” features an outstanding trumpet solo, as the rhythms shift behind it and the keyboards pulse around it. Then Galvin takes over for his own solo which gradually subsides so the track ends with an almost ambient feel.  By contrast “acrylic” starts with the trumpet melody alternating with, and then joining a heavy rock beat.

This may be Soper’s debut album, but the band has been playing together for quite a while and it has that mature, settled feel to it. Now they are on record I’m sure we will be hearing more from them.  

Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Jazz on and various internet stations.

LINK: Undoing on Bandcamp

Undoing is released today, 8 July 2022

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