SUN DRENCHED blissed out optimism is definitely in store from the debuting Walthamstow band Big Bad Wolf, unchaining the melody on tour from this week.
Hazy dazy trombone, Jacob Collier-type vocals popping into the polyphonic mix and slabs of Pat Metheny-like fusion as the band expands into longer improvisational sections spattered with hints of high life and an African feel to it, a highly unusual collection of tracks make up Pond Life, these lupine newcomers are Owen Dawson on trombone, Michael De Souza playing six-string Fender bass guitar, Rob Luft on guitar and Jay Davis at the drums. Luft you may remember cropped up on Phelan Burgoyne’s fine album Quiet Unquiet as well as sticking his head over the profile parapet also in 2016 by winning the Kenny Wheeler prize.But what about the mysterious vocals on the album? Rob Luft explains: “The first section of singing on ‘Canary’ is done by Michael De Souza, our bassist, and the last section is sung by myself. Our trombonist Owen Dawson also sings some backing vocals on this song, too. There were no animals hurt in the process of making this album!”
Luft’s ultimate jazz album for listening pleasure may well be “Idle Moments by the incredible guitarist Grant Green” yet the band as a whole were inspired a good deal more widely both close and far away from a jazz source. “We started playing together around two years ago,” he says, “and the reason I chose these guys to play with is because we all really shared the same influences. For example, we all really loved the music of free improv guitarist Derek Bailey, we all loved Björk, and also loved the music of San Franciscan punk band Deerhoof.”
As for the recording of Pond Life itself Rob paints an evocative picture of the bucolic Welsh setting in which it was created: “Giant Wafer Studios is a fantastic studio situated in the county of Powys in mid-Wales on a beautiful hilltop farm. The nearest town is Llandrindod Wells, which is around 20 minutes away by car. The recording experience was absolutely fantastic, we were lucky enough to receive a development grant from Help Musicians UK, who were kind enough to offer us a development grant which allowed us to spend five solid days in the studio with our good friend & prodigious mixing engineer Alex Killpartrick.” And you can hear the band playing tunes from Pond Life at Matt and Phreds, Manchester on Thursday 6 April.