The second installment of Igloo Magazine’s Not just jazz series, a succinct coverage of four more albums that push, stretch and merge musical boundaries and defy the one label categorization respectfully yet fiercely.
Shabaka and the Ancestors :: Wisdom of Elders (Brownswood)
Saxophonist, bandleader and composer Shabaka Hutchings strikes again with his latest project, Shabaka and the Ancestors, a group of passionate musicians devoted to the conjuring of Afro-infused jazz. From start to finish Wisdom of Elders flows in a ritualistic, trance-inducing manner. It transmits spellbinding energy of a live record in spite of being a studio creation. Heavy doses of brass sorcery accompanied by intense tropical drumming, deep basslines, mystical keyboard work and shamanic chants. Although still fresh out of the oven, Wisdom of Elders can already be called timeless. Spiritual, cosmic genre-fusing at its finest.
John Ellis :: Evolution: Seeds & Streams (Gondwana)
Pianist, composer, producer and a founding member of The Cinematic Orchestra, John Ellis, delivers his first solo album via Matthew Halsall‘s Gondwana imprint. Evolution: Seeds & Streams is a unique eight-track excursion bursting with spiritual energy and pulsating beauty. Ellis (piano and keyboards) and his band (two kora players, a horn section, cellist and an eccentric rhythm section) expertly weave Malian music, jazz and electronica flavors into a rich and kaleidoscopic tapestry. Sometimes leading the way and sometimes shining in the background, Ellis blooms together with his co-conspirators as one intricate and dynamic sonic creature. Organic in nature, inventive in flow and structure, Evolution: Seeds & Streams keeps the listener deeply engaged from start to finish. A beautiful and at times otherworldly album by a talented creative mind.
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society :: Real Enemies (New Amsterdam)
The music of composer and conductor Darcy James Argue and his 18-piece big band was never easy to digest. It’s multilayered, multifaceted and complex. That said, it’s also quite rewarding to the attentive ear. Real Enemies is the innovative project’s third album, the most ambitious and adventurous one out of the three, again out via New Amsterdam. Once again we get a highly theatrical and evocative journey packed with many influences, from jazz to rock, Latin music to funk, gentle electronic flavors to classical music and more. The thirteen pieces are executed in the most mind-boggling way under the skillful conducting hands of Argue. An explosive, mysterious and vibrant ride best consumed as a whole.
Dinosaur :: Together, As One (Edition)
Laura Jurd (trumpet & synth), Elliot Galvin (Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ), Conor Chaplin (electric bass) and Corrie Dick (drums), together known as Dinosaur, couldn’t have chosen a more suitable title for their debut album on the excellent Edition imprint. Jurd is the mastermind of this sassy, ingenious young group (the album’s eight epic pieces were written by her) but Dinosaur operates as one crystallized entity, driven by four creative minds. The result: a highly dynamic, colorful and eclectic sonic body that pulses with an enchanting groove and flows cunningly and intensely. Throughout the eight pieces jazz elements merge effortlessly with luminous micro electronica and free ambient spirit. These guys (and girl) are young but highly skilled and experienced and together they have managed to create a unique, incendiary and quite addictive debut album that reveals more charm and nuance with each listening session. Together, As One is definitely one of the most individual sounding albums I have heard lately and certainly will be a part of the most eclectic Best of the Year lists.