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Bebop Spoken There

Anat Cohen: "With the tenor, it's so iconic with jazz. With the clarinet, I can improvise, but it doesn't have to be called jazz." - (DownBeat July 2019)

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Today Tuesday June 18

Afternoon

Jazz

Classic Swing - The Ship Inn, Front Street, Monkseaton NE25 8DP. 0191 251 3677. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening

Lickety Split - Fox Inn, West End Terrace, Hexham NE46 3DB.Tel: 01434 603681. 8:30pm. Free (donations).

River City Jazzmen - Block & Tackle, Blackthorn Way, Ashington NE63 8NW. Tel: 01670 813983 (info). 8:00pm. £5.00. (inc raffle). Line-up inc special guest Don Fairley (trombone).

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

CD Review: Flying Machines – New Life

Alex Munk (guitar, vocals); Matt Robinson (piano, synths, Fender Rhodes); Conor Chaplin (electric bass); Dave Hamblett (drums).
(Review by Hugh C)
New Life is the second release from this London based band, their first, critically acclaimed, eponymous album having been issued in 2016.  New Life continues their trademark fusion of contemporary jazz with progressive rock.  This album continues their exploration with a mix of expansive through-composed material morphing into and out of group improvisation.

The first and title track, New Life, is a wake-up call with crashing guitar licks from Munk, worthy of any ‘70s stadium gig.  I suspect many a man (and the occasional woman) of a certain age will instantly begin to demonstrate their skills on an imaginary “axe” on hearing this track.  The main man is ably supported by the rhythm section to maintain momentum.   As the music decrescendos toward the final chord one fully expects a massive roar from the audience – but this is a studio recording.  Blink is improvised and again features fast licks on electric guitar with a great supporting bass line from Conor Chaplin – it ends all too quickly (a mere 51 seconds!).

Moondust has a less frenzied, more relaxed vibe.  Guitar is again to the fore, but much more of a jazz style with supporting harmony from Matt Robinson on keys and Conor Chaplin on bass.
Prelude to Elation starts with acoustic guitar and gentle accompanying wordless vocals, gently driven by Dave Hamblett on brushes.  This provides a short lead-in to Elation, a more substantial number and the longest on the album.  Solo guitar again commences this track with the gradual addition of other instruments.  An interesting mixture of tempi demonstrates Hamblett’s percussive skills and more expansive piano passages allow Robinson to stretch out.  Neat fretwork by Chaplin on bass is contributory to the overall sonic package – probably my favourite track on the album.

The fully improvised Standing Still commences with abstract guitar chords, synths and a gentle repetitive bass motif redolent of 20th-century space movies and best listened to while regarding Gabe Shaughnessy’s splendid pictures of the Veil Nebula which adorn the CD cover.  Kilter starts with solo guitar, over bass in a simple melody joined by piano and drums at a relaxed pace.  This track has the nearest thing to a bass solo, demonstrating Chaplin’s mastery of the instrument in a melodic style.

Fall In picks up the tempo again with Munk’s electric guitar in the ascendant, but with significant melodic contribution from bass and keys all driven by Hamblett’s powerhouse drumming.  In the centre there is a quieter interlude featuring Robinson on Fender Rhodes.  Bullet Train is the third entirely improvised track (no pun intended) and does bring to mind an image of a speeding locomotive followed by a gleaming string of carriages.  The music disaggregates towards the end (which is slightly unnerving in the context!) and segues into Take Time.  This final track slowly builds from atmospheric guitar chords over a simple drum beat and gradually gains more complexity with the addition of piano and bass. 

My initial reaction on playing the disc for the first time was – this isn’t Jazz!  Well, some of it probably isn’t, even by the most liberal interpretation of the word, but a significant part of the material on this CD is.  The jazz component and the remainder (progressive rock according to the record company press material) are both expertly crafted and skillfully delivered MUSIC, which is after all, what matters!

New Life is to be released by Ubuntu (UBU00017) on Friday 19 October 2018.  The launch is at Pizza Express in Soho on Monday 22 October.  I think this would sound great in a live setting – an opportunity exists to catch Flying Machines at the EFG London Jazz Festival on 25 November and then on tour in 2019*.
Hugh C.

* Tour dates.
            15 March – Birmingham Jazzlines
            25 March  - The Whisky Jar, Manchester
            29 March – Wakefield Jazz
            5 April – Derby Jazz
            25 April – The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen
            26 April – Edinburgh Jazz Bar
            7 May – St. Ives Jazz Club
            19 September – The Spin, Oxford
            23 October – The Lescar, Sheffield

Space in there for another NE gig perhaps? 
(Performed at Jazz Café February 2017)

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Interesting to read Steve H's review of the 2017 Jazz Cafe gig.

The band is apparently named after Munk's father, Roger's career as an expert and world leader in the field of lighter than air technology. The company that he founded, HAV, are now flight testing the world's largest air vehicle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=6&v=n21nJIy3dlg

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