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Bebop Spoken There

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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

CD Review: Johnny Hunter Quartet - While We Still Can.

Johnny Hunter (dms); Ben Watts (ten); Graham South (tpt); Stewart Wilson (bs).
(Review by Lance).
Johnny Hunter isn't just an A-list drummer but he's also a composer laying to rest the old '3 musicians + 1 drummer = 1 quartet' joke.
This is perhaps more ambitious than previous recordings - quote:  “For a while, I've been fascinated by the music of the Middle East and have found many similarities with contemporary jazz - with this album I wanted to explore some of the traits which draw me to it.
I combined rhythms such as the Turkish Laz (7/8) or Karsilama (9/8) (odd time signatures split into groupings of twos and threes) and the idea of tetrachords/Arabic maqam (groupings of four notes which can be built up to create various scales, albeit using the Western 12 tone scale) with my own background of post-rock and free improvisation, and the Ornette Coleman approach of ‘here's the theme, now let it go’, with very little predetermined structure for the solos to follow. The title is about the appreciation of everything in your life, be it your pets, your family or your bass player; you never know when they may move to Glasgow".
Hmmm... well those observations almost persuaded me to sling this in the direction of the long-suffering Russell! But no, being a glutton for punishment, I decided to give it a listen and, you know what? it wasn't punishment at all!
It's complex, sensibly the first track - Overture - is an out and out swinger that opens the door for the more outré items to follow.
To put this in context, imagine hearing Ornette's Tomorrow is the Question for the first time or Don Ellis' The Electric Bath, Brubeck's Time Out and you've got an idea of where we are at. Hunter manages to incorporate many of the above influences without any suggestion of plagiarism. It's an exploration into many cultures by four fine players.
I can't fault the musicianship but I doubt if it will make it to the car stereo!
Lance.
Johnny Hunter Quartet - While We Still Can available on Efpi on June 17.

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