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Friday, March 08, 2013

CD Review: Aquarium - Places.


Sam Leak (pno); James Allsopp (ten/bs.clt);  Calum Gourley (bs); Joshua Blackmore (dms).
(Review by Russell)
Pianist Sam Leak presents eight compositions on Places the new release from Aquarium on  Jellymould  Jazz. A quartet variously comprising graduates of the Royal Academy of Music and multi-award winning musicians on the UK scene,  Leak has clearly written for the musicians on this recording.
Reeds virtuoso James Allsopp is afforded generous solo space on tenor saxophone and the occasional bass clarinet excursion (hearing Allsopp in concert on the latter instrument was a truly memorable experience). Tenor and piano flow effortlessly on the title track, in contrast to the coiled intensity of the post-Coltrane Milan on which Allsopp’s measured phrasing is challenged by Leak’s dark chord progressions.
The quartet’s accomplished ensemble playing is showcased on the dazzling up tempo Scribbles and Scrawls as drummer Joshua Blackmore and bassist Calum Gourlay chart the band in one direction before pulling it in another drawing an instantaneous response from Leak and Allsopp. Catherine Grove (one of the inspired ‘places’) features further sparkling playing as Leak’s clarity of thought constructs an impressive solo.
There is a bonus track - a live recording of Milan at the 2011 London Jazz Festival - offering a compare and contrast exercise between studio and on location recordings. Places is released on Monday 11 March. The CD launch gig is at the Vortex, London on 30 May. Aquarium can be heard this Sunday (10 March) at the Pizza Express, Dean Street, London and throughout the country through to September and beyond.
Places is available on Jellymould Jazz (JM-JJ010). Recommended.
Russell.                                              

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