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Album Reviews Album reviews with Kevin Bryan, Ben Lunn and Chris Searle

New releases from Green Diesel, Guntis Kuzma and Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Roy Hargrove/Mulgrew Miller, Maartin Allcock, Irina Muresanu and Valentina Sandu-Dediu, Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra, Affinity, bloodcog, Angelika Nescier/Alexander Hawkins

Guntis Kuzma and Latvian National Symphony Orchestra (LNSO)
Ivanovs: Symphonies No 15 & 16
Skani
★★★★★

THE recent release two of Ivanovs’s latter symphonies by Skani is a very promising publication. Ivanovs, like many composers who lived in the former Soviet Union, has been neglected by Western audiences during and after his lifetime. Ultimately this is a travesty as so much wonderful work exists — and stereotypes of a nation should never be a barrier to hearing great art.

The turn symphonies show the composer entering his latter period and listening to them you do have a feeling of listening to a master at work. Guntis Kuzma and the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra play the symphonies will real zest and zeal — an almost tangible pride in their great symphonist.

Since my first encounter with Ivanovs I have been in love with the work, and I simply cannot encourage readers to get this CD or any CD of Ivanovs’s music. Master music, beautiful played, what’s not to love?

Ben Lunn

Green Diesel
After Comes The Dark
(Talking Elephant)

★★★★

THIS excellent folk-rock band hail from the Kent town of Faversham, and their richly rewarding approach to music-making draws inspiration from the trailblazing exploits of legendary outfits such as Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and MrFox.

The release of Green Diesel’s latest long playing creation, After Comes The Dark was delayed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and now it’s finally seen the light of day.

Listeners will  be able to enjoy the contribution of recently recruited drummer Paul Dadswell as the band’s sound continues to develop and progress with the incorporation of more progressive and pyschedelic elements alongside their beguiling celebration of the delights of classic electric folk from the genre’s golden era half a century ago.

Vocalist and fiddle virtuoso Ellen Care is in particularly fine fettle on stand-out tracks such as Follow The River and Katy Cruel.

Kevin Bryan

Roy Hargrove/Mulgrew Miller
In Harmony
Resonance Records

★★★★★

TWO of jazz’s most luminous troubadours, Texas trumpeter Roy Hargrove (1969-2018) and Mississippi pianist Mulgrew Miller (1959-2013) both died in the last decade, but not before recording together — live in New York — this marvellous double album, In Harmony.

A succession of songbook themes, bop anthems and Monk melodies, Miller’s blues-saturated notes and Hargrove’s full-horn, piercing intensity are powerfully expressed during this session, with loving empathy, lyrical melodism and rampant improvisation — as in Hargrove’s final choruses of This is Always.

Benny Golson’s I Remember Clifford is a moving tribute to Hargrove’s inspiration, Clifford Brown, played with a compellingly beautiful reverence, and Jobim’s Triste is like a seething Brazilian blues played with Miller’s Delta profundity.

In Monk’s Dream the two twist around all its corners and Dizzy Gillespie’s Ow! is a mutual jazz shout of boppish joy: a living memorial to two brilliant jazz eminences.

Chris Searle

 

Irina Muresanu and Valentina Sandu-Dediu
Hybrids, Hints & Hooks – Music for violin/piano & solo violin
Divine Art Recordings

★★★★
 

CLASSICAL music in Romania has been overshadowed by Georges Enescu that people forget the composers have still been composing since the master passed away. Dan Dediu (1967*) stands as an incredibly interesting and important musical figure in modern-day Romania.

As the title suggests, the works featured in this album centre around the violin. Though despite the modesty of a singular violin or a duet of violin and piano, the works show the character and inventiveness of Dediu; and as the works span a period of 21 years we get to see how the composer has developed their skill talents and ingenuity.

Irina Muresanu and Valentina Sandu-Dediu are truly committed performers, and I do hope to hear them play works by other Romanian composers in future. This album gives a fascinating insight and introduction to a composer who is severely underappreciated in Britain; let’s hope this starts to change things.

BL

 

Maartin Allcock
OX15
(Talking Elephant)

★★★

THIS interesting vehicle for the talents of the late Maartin Allcock first saw the light of day in 1999, and found the former Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull stalwart working in close collaboration with some of his esteemed old bandmates in a stylish celebration of the delights of folk-rock.

The finished product boasts sterling performances from luminaries such as Tull’s flute wielding frontman Ian Anderson and drummer Clive Bunker alongside Fairport’s demon fiddler Chris Leslie as the ensemble launch into an eclectic set list which runs the gamut from the Allman Brother’s Jessica to the folk music of Eastern Europe and India.

With the multitalented Mr Allcock chipping in with an arresting assortment of self penned pieces to lend added appeal to the proceedings.

Selecting highlights is an invidious task, but if pressed I’d plump for A Dream and a rousing interpretation of The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

KB

Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra
Tales Of The Jacquard
Whirlwind Recordings

★★★★

SAXOPHONIST Julian Siegel’s Polish father Bernard founded a lace factory near Nottingham in the postwar years. Julian remembers well the sounds of its machines and manufacturing processes. Tales of the Jacquard is his orchestral reinvention of this industrial soundscape played by some of Britain’s prime jazz artistes.

It’s a unique musical venture, superbly accomplished with memorable solos from Siegel, veteran trumpeter Henry Lowther, trombonist Harry Brown, tenor saxophonist Stan Sulzmann and flautist Tori Freestone.

Other tracks include Song, featuring Percy Pursglove’s resonant flugelhorn, and Blues with Jason Yarde’s simmering soprano saxophone. The album gives a precious opportunity to bring together, in a big band setting, some now-times outstanding talent.

The fusion of music and industrial life is a rare and challenging artistic enterprise. Segal achieves it with composing and arranging aplomb in this album, shared by an aggregation of some brilliant musical souls.

CS

 

 

bloodcog
the reverse of reality
whi music

★★★★

BEFORE I received this CD, I was told “this might not be up my street,” which is always a funny assumption I feel as I am rarely shocked thanks to my obsession with Romanian experimental music during my early 20s. Though this new album by bloodcog really gave a good stab at it. Experimental music is often stuck in a difficult situation, how far can it go? Is it musical? Is it not musical? I often feel it is limiting in the way people discuss and think about it.

bloodcog, like most experimental music, is music of its time – a frantic exploration and overload of sounds and sensations that often emanate from the frantic hustle and bustle of the day-to-day. The skill and musicianship on display is remarkable and shows an in depth understanding of what they are capable of. The question is, where next for the ensemble?

BL

 

 

Affinity
Affinity: Remastered & Expanded
(Cherry Red)

★★★★

THIS impressive four-CD box set from the good people at Cherry Red focuses attention on the collected works of legendary jazz-rockers Affinity, whose meagre recorded output apparently fetches astronomical prices in vinyl form these days.

The group’s critically acclaimed 1970 debut set, Affinity, is the centrepiece of a well annotated package which also draws on material from their early year at the University of Sussex in the mid 60s alongside their ultimately fruitless attempts to release a second album in 1972 after what proved to be the career ending departures of key members Linda Hoyle and Lynton Naiff.

Keyboard virtuoso Naiff and vocalist Hoyle are in particularly fine fettle throughout  their sole album release as  Affinity deliver inventive revamps of such diverse ditties as The Everly Brothers’ I Wonder If I Care As Much, Laura Nyro’s Eli’s Coming and Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower.

KB

Angelika Nescier/Alexander Hawkins
Soul In Plain Sight
Intakt Records

★★★★★

THIS duo partnership of Oxford-born pianist Alexander Hawkins and Poland-born alto saxophonist Angelika Nescier is a true mutual voyage of sonic discovery. It is as if everything is new and unleashed — even their astonishing recreation of Muhal Richard Abrams’s improvisation anthem, Arhythm Songy.

They delve so deep inside each other’s artistry that what seems entirely new is simultaneously classic and ancient. The album becomes a shared tale of two European griots.

Listen to the gathering exultation of Un:Tamed before its sudden cut-off, the exploratory finesse of Nescier’s horn on her composition Shipwrecked Words — or the way Hawkins’s underfelt notes absorb her lyrical beauty on Scops.

Nescier swoops into the opening phrases of Nexus like a gull skimming water, above Hawkins’s sheer excitement of creation. This encounter in a Cologne studio makes a timbral newfoundland in the very heart of Europe, on the very borderlands of improvised sound.

CS

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