My limited familiarity with the work of Jonathan Silk goes back three years to Uncouth, his self-released big band debut featuring Percy Pursglove, another big band affair, returning here as a significant flugelhorn muse.
The drummer on this studio album recorded in Angel in January 2016, one of London’s top recording studios, a studio where Guy Barker recorded ‘Underdogs’ for instance on the classic 2002 album Soundtrack, has better studio sound and production for sure than Uncouth and Silk's writing is equally of a high standard, 11 tunes this time by the Scot – more bang for your buck.
Silk’s style has changed since that earlier album, the style fitting less into the Gil Evans bracket and more brashly avant garde certainly in the early tracks. Pursglove is not so dominant as before, the ensemble conducted by Andrew Bain more the instrument this time, a difficult feat to achieve, Hans Koller perhaps the closest in terms of ensemble style as a comparison companion but maybe even touches of Maria Schneider’s work in the arranging applies.
Reuben Fowler, the most startlingly individual young British jazz trumpeter of his generation, incidentally is among the trumpet section. But singling out individuals (because so many shine in contributing to the collective strength of the ensemble that also bristles with a 13-piece strings section, adding to the brass, reeds and full rhythm section) to shower praise on one though tempting would be invidious.
Take a punt on this on release later this week if you are in a physical music-buying mood: the CD sound will be much better than the download spec for one and the barely there satin artwork is better experienced on card even than on a high resolution screen for a better sense of the David Stanley painting (the style of which reminds me of some paintings to be found in Tum label artwork).
Listen above to an excerpt from Fragment.