This self-produced album features Alexander Bone (saxes and synths) with his regular Trio collaborators Toby Comeau (keyboards) and Joe Lee (bass). It also includes Rory Ingham (trombone) and Jonny Mansfield (drums), playing eight self-penned tracks in a range of styles; Bone and Ingham contribute two tunes each, Comeau three, and Mansfield one. Being the drummer, it is only to be expected (sic) that the latter's contribution is the sonorous, brassy and gentle Chorale, which rises to a slightly atonal crescendo, before returning to the theme. Elsewhere, the mood is basically fusion, and jazz-funk, with more than an occasional nod to early 60's Blue Note style.
This is a young band - they are all still only 20 and studying at London Music Colleges (RAM and Guildhall). However, the quality of the writing and arranging on these tunes is excellent. The front line of alto sax and trombone gives the harmonies a depth and gravitas which is both beautiful and emotive. The solos are more than competent, and never clichéd - as these guys mature with experience, we can surely look forward to some quite outstanding work in the future.
The lively opener, Bone's It's You sets the scene, with a fusion feel, and a strong alto solo, followed by compact solos from the rest of the band, and ending with Bone's searing synth playout. The funk element is well exemplified by Joe Lee's bass solo on Enough for Me. Comeau is particularly strong when writing and playing on ballads such as his You are the Vibe to my Hang and the album closer Last Decade. He is adept at soloing on both acoustic and electric pianos, and shows assured taste in his playing. On both tunes, he builds the tension from his slow opening themes, giving opportunities for both Ingham and Bone to insert high quality solos.
At the other end of the spectrum, Comeau's Off On a Rant starts with funky drums and leads into a 60's style theme - again Bone's sax solo is excellent, and Comeau's electric piano solo light and airy. Get it on Target has a jaunty theme introduced by Ingham's trombone, then Bone's alto -these two then solo and duet to great effect. Bone's slow ballad First Day appears to be a more tightly composed piece, but it still allows him to insert soprano sax, with tasteful trombone and electric piano interweaving gentle solos across the tune.
This is an exceptional debut album from a set of young jazz musicians and composers who are full of promise for the future. Highly recommended.
And check out Bone's other groups - Trio and Said Skeleton at www.alexanderbone.com !
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