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Monday, October 13, 2014

CD Review: Paragon – Cerca

Peter Ehwald (tenor & soprano saxophones), Arthur Lea (Fender Rhodes), Matthias Nowak (double bass) & Jon Scott (drums)
(Review by Russell).
Cerca is Paragon’s third CD since forming a decade ago. Bandleaders Peter Ehwald and Arthur Lea wrote music independently of one another in advance of a two-day recording session in Cologne. Ten tracks made it onto the album and Lea’s agitated Fender Rhodes leads on the opening Cerca de Ti. Co-leader Ehwald enters on upper register tenor as Jon Scott keeps the nu-swing tempo rattling along.
Ehwald’s East to West is a short, reflective piece; breathy reeds ceding to the precise bass pattern laid down by Matthias Novak. Delhi Belly (comp. Lea) is a rather apposite title, a flurry of activity sees the quartet race from A to B; tenor, keys, drums. A frantic Bohdan (another sprinter) excites with a near-manic Fender workout. Glory (comp. Ehwald) takes its time, a suitable antidote to the preceding finger-busting action.  
Brevity is the watchword on this recording (hearing the band live is to hear them develop a piece and stretch out); concise, polished, punchy statements. Blue Eyes White Dragon dances along courtesy of Scott and Novak with Ehwald’s fluent soprano suggesting this is his most interesting instrument. Lea’s elegant Fat Pig is certainly a misnomer with its stately, elegiac quality. The final three tracks are Ehwald compositions – North to South, Linguine and Ballade. Lea’s keyboards on Linguine suggest a liking for seventies’ jazz-rock popularised by Return to Forever. Ballade is the go-home encore number, the party over, the pyrotechnics done.
Cerca is released on October 13. Paragon’s UK tour starts on October 28 in Newcastle at the Jazz Café. The album launch gig is in London (October 31) at Jazz Live @ The Crypt and further dates take the quartet into November.
Cerca is released on Jellymould Jazz (JM-JJ014).
Russell.

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