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Partikel – ‘Anniversary Song’

Partikel – Anniversary Song

(Berthold Records – Album review by Bruce Lindsay)

Ten years after its foundation as a trio and its debut at The Grey Horse in Kingston, Partikel – saxophonist and composer Duncan Eagles, bassist Max Luthert and drummer Eric Ford – planned to record and release a celebratory album, Anniversary Song. That was in 2019, but as world events got in the way it took another three years to bring the recording to fruition. Eagles has explained much of the background to the creation of Anniversary Song, the band’s fifth album, in his LJN interview with John Fordham (link below), so suffice to say here that the freshness, creativity and imagination demonstrated on these ten tracks show that it was worth the wait.

To be accurate, the album contains ten tracks, but nine tunes: track seven, accurately titled “Drum Intro,” is a ninety-second Ford solo that leads straight into “Riad.” Eagles wrote all of the tunes, with arrangements credited to all three players. For the most part, Eagles plays tenor sax, the preferred instrument of one of his major influences, Sonny Rollins. Throughout the album, all three instrumentalists play with combinations of strength and subtlety: the arrangements enable each of them to share responsibility for lead and supporting roles, and there’s a consistent live feel to the performances with the exception of “Citizen,” originally written for quintet, which features overdubbed horns.

With Eagles on tenor, the tunes range from the lyrical, straightahead, “Rose Bush” to the energetic and powerful “Catford Muse.” “Suburbiton” is another lyrical number and one which paints a far more romantic picture of the country’s suburbs than they probably deserve. “Cryptography” opens with a Morse Code style phrase on tenor but centres on another immediately engaging saxophone phrase, one with a striking resemblance to a classic John Lewis composition recorded by the Modern Jazz Quartet. Eagles’s ability to create musical drama is shown by “The Butterfly Effect,” which tells its story through shifts in tone, tempo and rhythm. In Fordham’s article, “The Golden Bridge” is described as a “dreamy tenor-sax meditation,” although repeated listens still, for me, conjure images of a cat prowling across midnight streets, stalking then trapping its unwitting prey.

When Eagles moves to soprano sax, for “Silhouettes,” the result is Anniversary Song’s most impressive tune. It begins as a slow tempo, rather plaintive, number before a sudden mood shift thanks to a sinuous, free-flowing, almost frenetic Eagles solo and further emphatic contributions from Ford and Luthert. The tune encapsulates the talent and enthusiasm of the trio, confirming its status as one of the scene’s most forward-thinking groups. Happy (belated) tenth birthday to Partikel.

LINK: John Fordham’s feature/interview with Duncan Eagles

Anniversary Song is launched at Pizza Express Dean Street on 9 August 2022. BOOKINGS

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