INCOMING

INCOMING

Ben Wendel, High Heart

Fusing vocals and instrumental jazz is something of a search for the holy grail. That search may well be an impossibility although the searching here has a completeness to it, a process, that makes such an aspiration burn that bit more brightly. …

Published: 5 Nov 2020. Updated: 6 months.

Fusing vocals and instrumental jazz is something of a search for the holy grail. That search may well be an impossibility although the searching here has a completeness to it, a process, that makes such an aspiration burn that bit more brightly. Michael Mayo again is that innovator who is important on the title track, sitting on top of an engrossing, lapping statement of uneasy flux. 'Burning Bright' punches out a tense theme that saxophonist Ben Wendel who has written all the music on the record powers into, the strong pianism, Shai Maestro and Gerald Clayton both alternating on Fender Rhodes throughout, adding plenty of detail and again Mayo punctuating the sound, sub clause after sub clause heightening the effect and the statement of intent. You might quibble that the acrobatics of the musicianship is too much at times. But against that the cleverness about the writing is that when the push is on, there is a willingness to eventually step back.

Take 'Kindly', an anti-ballad that moves in and out of a pensive mood to surge and let the tide rise and fall away. Mayo is more reflective on 'Less' and you can get a sense of Wendel's concept of space. 'Drawn Away' moves into Chris Potter territory more, Nate Wood a busy presence on drums. 'Fearsome' sets several hares running and you might see this piece as more of an exercise in form, certainly the structures are complex and yet the results are easy to consume and just believe in rather than analyse. The Fender Rhodes passages manage to avoid the usual sound pictures the instrument throws up although 'Darling' does not grab me as much as some of the other tracks. 'Traveler' at the end underlines Mayo's role on the album. Wendel's writing is often intense but never over cooked and it is a vision that tries for the impossible and knows that dreaming is all. Out on Edition.

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IRENE SERRA and LUCA BOSCAGIN, UPSTAIRS AT RONNIE SCOTT's

The penultimate night upstairs in Ronnie's before the club closes for a month-long Lockdown on Thursday, the theme for singer Irene Serra and guitarist Luca Boscagin was rooted in Brazilian sounds. Introduced to the audience by Paul Pace, beginning …

Published: 4 Nov 2020. Updated: 2 months.

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The penultimate night upstairs in Ronnie's before the club closes for a month-long Lockdown on Thursday, the theme for singer Irene Serra and guitarist Luca Boscagin was rooted in Brazilian sounds. Introduced to the audience by Paul Pace, beginning with 'Wave' we'll need to close our eyes if not our ears when Lockdown shuts jazz places in London once again. Serra has a very pure voice, light and nimble and she has great diction. Boscagin was low profile as an accompanist but elegant with it. The evening's highlights included a great arrangement of Miles Davis' 'Four'. Serra reminds me a little of Georgia Mancio. However, Serra's voice has its own individual character that leads listeners in interesting directions, perhaps inhabiting a slightly higher range. Like Georgia the singer has great ability and style in the Jobim domain and handled the classic Brazilian material with lightness, positivity, and considerable empathy.