Alternative folk jazz collective Awen Ensemble to debut

A fresh new band to know about here with the first stirrings from the debut album of Awen Ensemble's Cadair Idris out in April. Leeds based, self-described as an ''alternative folk jazz collective'' the word ''Awen'' in their name means ''poetic …

Published: 1 Feb 2024. Updated: 7 days.

A fresh new band to know about here with the first stirrings from the debut album of Awen Ensemble's Cadair Idris out in April. Leeds based, self-described as an ''alternative folk jazz collective'' the word ''Awen'' in their name means ''poetic inspiration'' in Welsh. Amy Clark's vocals on the initial track above lands somewhere between the sound of Christine Tobin and Lauren Kinsella. Also in the band are Emyr Penry Dance on trumpet, Saul Duff on tenor sax, Samantha Binotti vibes, Ruari Graham on guitar, Glen Leach on Fender Rhodes, Joe Wilkes on bass and Eddie Bowes on drums and bodhran. Their album is to be issued on the New Soil label and takes its name from a mythology rich peak of Snowdonia. Dates coming up include Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on 28 April.

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Joel Ross, Nublues, Blue Note ****

Already something of a veteran on Blue Note with this his fourth recording for the venerable label, vibist Joel Ross by dint of this and of course his considerable playing prowess can easily and already be seen as the most significant American …

Published: 1 Feb 2024. Updated: 26 days.

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Already something of a veteran on Blue Note with this his fourth recording for the venerable label, vibist Joel Ross by dint of this and of course his considerable playing prowess can easily and already be seen as the most significant American vibist of our time in the lineage of greats such as Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, Steve Nelson and Gary Burton. This new record has stand-out alto work from Immanuel Wilkins - the line-up also featuring pianist Jeremy Corren, bassist Kanoa Mendenhall, drummer Jeremy Dutton and a guesting Gabrielle Garo on flute. The album opens mournfully with 'Early' and procedes in solemn fashion leading beautifully into John Coltrane's 'Equinox' which certainly lays down its credentials fast. Most of the tunes are absorbing Ross originals and there's another Coltrane cover in 'Central Park West' and the other cover is Thelonious Monk's 'Evidence'. You can see how Ross positions himself - he's at the heart of the new tradition in transition keeping masters like Coltrane and Monk in mind, his own faith, and injecting his signal contribution into that mood, if you like a reaction to everything he knows. The blues he immerses himself in are never obvious. He's quoted as describing them as ''sort of a spirit or an energy, it's emotion, it’s expression. But I also want to stay true to the rhythmic ideations that we’ve already been developing.” He certainly does that. And once again the American delivers an album that has a lot of sophistication and makes sense in the tradition of what Blue Note Records is about. Standouts include 'What Am I Waiting For'. His best album to date? Probably - the blues, new or old, suit this remarkable player extremely well. Joel Ross, photo: Bruce Bennett. Out on 9 February. Some tracks are streaming ahead of release