A pulsing, busily rhythmic opening kicks off Klammer, new this week from pianist Rick Simpson here with a lively band featuring saxophonists Michael Chillingworth and George Crowley, vibist Ralph Wyld, Empirical bassist Tom Farmer, and drummer Dave Hamblett.
Playing Simpson’s own highly intricate tunes there’s a quizzical and playful almost funky side to second tune ‘Beware of Gabriel Garrick Imitators,’ and overall a serious, mathematical method in the way the band operates.
London-based Simpson graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2008 and likes to mix things up here whether on piano, Fender Rhodes or Wurlitzer, and there’s an open eared sense of mischief at play and plenty of energy and power in the band’s attitude, a focus on through-composition and complexity.
I don’t think you’ll emerge from listening to the record whistling any of Simpson’s tunes, it’s not that kind of material, but you’ll probably appreciate the sense of craft and skill at play from all concerned. A new name to me, it will be interesting to see how his writing develops in the years to come after this promising release.
Irish traditional music has been dusted down and reinvented by a new generation of musicians, many of them schooled in a range of other musics including jazz.
Ensemble Ériu are at the forefront of this new wave. Featuring jazz bassist Neil O’Loghlen, picking up flute on a few pieces, Jack Talty on concertina, Maeve O’Hara on marimba, Matthew Berrill on clarinet, Matthew Jacobson on drums (again a player who has a strong jazz pedigree with the band Redivider), Jeremy Spencer on fiddle, and Patrick Groenland on guitar, their self titled debut released in 2013 had a larger personnel playing mainly traditional pieces that were recorded in two studios in County Clare and which build from the engine room of chamber music and structured experimentation around the shell of strong motifs or phrases. The Ensemble utilise traditional Irish metrical forms that operate episodically sometimes in orthodox ways but also move some distance from pure forms via unusual instrumentation, with marimba voicings, for instance, adding to the instrumental palette.
This time recording in County Galway over a couple of days of the autumn of 2015 the largely traditional pieces were arranged by O’Loghlen and have a serene almost zen like strictness to their structure.The title is an Old Irish word used to describe inspiration, creativity, and prophetic knowledge and the ensemble are well worth your own kind of inspired discovering.