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Album reviews with MICHAL BONCZA

New releases from Sam Eastmond, Angharad Jenkins and Patrick Rimes, Gabriel Moreno

Sam Eastmond
The Bagatelles Vol 16
(Tzadik Records)
★★★★★

NEW YORKER John Zorn is an avant-garde musician singularly unconcerned by and working outside the “mainstream,” and yet simultaneously having a profound influence on it.

His Book of (300) Bagatelles (a term used since 1827 for pieces of light music) comprises three-minute-burst micro-collages that are as unexpected as they are fascinating.

Sam Eastmond, a London-based Jewish musical polymath, brings an innate feel for and astonishing invention to his interpretation of Zorn’s soundscapes.

His “big band” offers endless chromatic possibilities with jazz and film music narratives at the centre of this exquisite oeuvre.

Rapturous throughout, Eastmond’s renditions delight with dissonance and spirited, irregular ostinati. Sample the superb 1940s film noir ambience of Bagatelle 256 or sax solo of 101, while Bagatelle 198 electrifies with its uptempo dramatic sequences as do the saxophone riffs contrasted by the tranquil passages of Bagatelle 143 or 74.

Riveting — a revelation.

Angharad Jenkins and Patrick Rimes
Amrwd/Raw
(Ty Cerdd Records)
★★★★★

SHOULD you remember Welsh legends Calan, Angharad Jenkins and Patrick Rimes are former founding members and Amrwd (the Welsh for raw) is their stirring debut as a duet.

Both are an integral part of the Welsh fiddle tradition. Here, the earthy sound of strings stand hairs on end as they dazzlingly converse in Brandy Cove or Du Fel y Glo or the virtuoso Myfanwy, “the greatest love song ever written.”

Also, both possess stunning voices: Gyrru’r Ychen/Driving the Oxen bewitches with its tender melancholy, while Calon Lan/A Pure Heart (1890) allures: “I don’t ask for a luxurious life...” in a plea for a virtuous life, free from the temptations and trappings brought by capitalism — a firm favourite of Welsh rugby fans and Plaid Cymru and Welsh Labour MPs.

An album of immense refinement — a remarkable achievement.

Gabriel Moreno
Wound In The Night
(Poetry Mondays 005)
★★★★★

THE Gibraltarian troubadour enthrals with ballads that explore romance, time, loss and the pursuit of worthy purpose.

His magnificently anguished dialogue with painter Suzanne Valadon: “Can you tell me what’s wrong, we came out of the storm with nothing but phones and pyramid lies” gives goose pimples no less than the wonderfully pulsating Shutters On Your Eyes: “You strolled around the valleys with your shades and your Armanis / to disguise the terror and the lies in the caverns of your mind.”

Gabriel Moreno’s warm voice, embroidered by Ned Cartwright’s deft piano accompaniment, engrosses and soothes. Meditative one moment and despairing the next, these unhurried songs offer spiritual succour and solidarity, a balm for our trying times.

It has been said that “what sets Moreno apart is his intriguing usage of the English language to address socio-political issues.”

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