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Bebop Spoken There

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

CD Review: Julian Argüelles – Tetra

Julian Argüelles – soprano and tenor saxophones and celeste; Kit Downes – piano; Sam Lasserson – double bass; James Maddren – drums
(Review by Hugh C.)
British saxophonist Julian Argüelles is widely known as a member of the seminal big band Loose Tubes as well as for his involvement with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band.  He has also previously recorded with well-established musicians on the jazz scene such as Mike Walker, Dave Holland, Martin France and the late John Taylor.
In this new release he shows his respect for an eclectic range of younger jazz musicians in collaboration with Downes, Lasserson and Maddren.  Argüelles has previously worked with Downes and Maddren and joined by the bassist, Lasserson, the quartet has toured together over the last three years.
Tetra, originally conceived as a continuous suite, in the live setting is still expressed that way to some degree.  Indeed, on this recording the first six tracks effectively segue directly one into another.
There are eight tracks on the album and the whole comes in at just under one hour.  We are greeted on Hugger Mugger (01:44) with a pensive introduction by bass, piano and celeste.  The tempo suddenly quickens with a catchy groove set by Lasserson's bass soon joined by Maddren on drums – now we are talking!  Yada Yada features Argüelles on tenor with the rhythm section in the engine room.  The listener is out of breath and exhausted by the end – which is only the beginning of Hurley Burley (no time to rest!).   This third track commences with an extended drum solo by Maddren before he is joined by his compadres in a jaunty up tempo piece with complex rhythmic interplay between Argüelles' soprano and the other members of the quartet.  Hocus Pocus starts immediately as the final chord of the previous track fades away.  Lilting solo soprano saxophone introduces this mischievous little number – watch out, you never know what might happen! 
At 10:35 Nitty Gritty is the longest track on the album.  This has a distinctly Spanish feel,  perhaps reflecting Argüelles ancestry as a “descendent of one who came from Arguello”.  Asturias continues the Iberian theme and has its origins in Argüelles' transcriptions of solo vocal folk music from north-west Spain.  It starts with another drum solo, joined after almost two minutes by Lasserson on bass, before the full ensemble bring in the melody.  After a short track break Fugue features the solo piano of Kit Downes joined (after a while) sequentially by bass, tenor and drums in fugal succession. 
Iron Pyrite, the final track, again follows on directly without a break.  Don't be fooled by this title – this track glistens (as does the rest of the album) like the real thing.  These four are consummate musicians.  Tetra is a burst of golden sunshine and will warm the listener during the shortening autumn days.  The guys will be brilliant in a live performance, and fortunately for you, dear reader, the UK Tetra tour commences at Sage Gateshead on October 26 (tickets still available).
Tetra is released on Friday October 16 (Whirlwind WR4678)
Tetra promotional video can be viewed herehttps://youtu.be/ZP02Z7FiG2s
Hugh.

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