Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Helveticus, Our Way, Blaser Music ***1/2

RADTRAD RHAPSODIES Not exactly a full blown trend this year. Give it time - but Our Way nevertheless is the latest in what we call radtrad - radical traditional jazz - to come our way after reviewing Brum sensations Swing You Sinners last month. …

Published: 24 May 2024. Updated: 51 days.

RADTRAD RHAPSODIES

Not exactly a full blown trend this year. Give it time - but Our Way nevertheless is the latest in what we call radtrad - radical traditional jazz - to come our way after reviewing Brum sensations Swing You Sinners last month. Nothing if not versatile Swiss trombone icon Samuel Blaser, who is a big reggae head as well as a radical tradster, is here with a trio who go by the name of Helveticus ergo, Swiss - bassist Heiri Känzig and drummer Daniel Humair, the latter of whom is the best known of all these players, a legendary free-jazz drummer who turned 86 this week and is long known for his work crossing idioms oh with Stéphane Grappelli as effortlessly as he collaborated wth the erudite Swiss grand fromage, George Gruntz.

Creole Love Call

Set up on this recording, given the lack of a piano role in the instrumentation, to be loose and not too bogged down by harmonic strictures, Humair and Blaser pieces are presented along with a range of standards the best of which captured is 'Creole Love Call' - the Duke Ellington, Rudy Jackson, Bubber Miley, King Oliver classic that goes back to the 1920s. It's a zany and yet tender strum-a-long that we are fond of having heard it played live first by Humphrey Lyttelton back in the 1980s when Humph was touring small towns in Ireland.

Swish from the Swiss

The filling provided by these - if you think of the album as a Toblerone (and why not!) - Swiss on a roll is also bolstered by folk tunes. Blaser is reliably Albert Mangelsdorff-like rather than anyway kind of fondue, itching to swing if you know what I mean - but it wouldn't be completely appropriate here - rather than go modal or the full monty and freak out or even however daringly scale the nearest mountain to hand without the need for crampons. He is always reliably blue-ish. So it's clear radtrad has momentum - if Blaser has a counterpart on the UK scene it's that fine improviser Sarah Gail Brand. And there's enough here to go cuckoo over, especially the fun version of 'Tiger Rag'. But if push were to come to shove we still prefer Blaser's Don Drummond tribute Routes last year featuring sterling work from Soweto Kinch, Alex Wilson and lovers rock queen Carroll Thompson. If you are a Günter Baby Sommer fan, however - is there a freeform loving Eurojazz or maverick German jazzer who isn't? - you will probably dig Humair most on 'Genevamalgame.'

Out today

Samuel Blaser, photo: Alex Troesch

Tags: Reviews

England/Ireland album of the week: Bag of Bones, No One Gets Saved, 577 Records ****

Bag of Bones, l-r: Riley Stone-Lonergan, Will Glaser, Rick Simpson, Oli Hayhurst A joint Irish and English band - the Galwegian saxophonist Riley Stone-Lonergan known for his work most with veteran Tubbyologist (Rev) Spike Wells and Turin Brakes' …

Published: 24 May 2024. Updated: 56 days.

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Bag of Bones, l-r: Riley Stone-Lonergan, Will Glaser, Rick Simpson, Oli Hayhurst

A joint Irish and English band - the Galwegian saxophonist Riley Stone-Lonergan known for his work most with veteran Tubbyologist (Rev) Spike Wells and Turin Brakes' jazz loving bassist Eddie Myer here in a primus inter pares quartet of leaders and whose 'Onwards and Upwards' is also track of the week. The nearest Stone-Lonergan gets to going calypso and more into a Sonny Rollins-like realm is a very subtle hint in the arc of 'Albie.' But it's not a stars in their eyes channelling of anyone however lovingly sort of tenor situation at all. Pharoah Sanders bassist Oli Hayhurst is pivotal certainly on the opener and when he comes in on 'Albie'. But it's probably the best showing that we have heard on a recording or live for that matter by Worksop born drummer Will Glaser, whose Allsoppian New River Ramble has in the past excited us. Glaser was also with Hayhurst on Chris Allard's tasty, very different Melodic Collective issued last year.

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Seeking, striving, finding, thrusting

There are eight tracks. Opener 'Onwards and Upwards' is streaming. Readers in the know certainly among the Radiohead fanbase will probably raise an upward appreciative set of arched eyebrows over what pianist Rick Simpson has achieved already in his revisitation of Kid A and he is attentive here a lot to what the overall band sound requires. There isn't a need for any showboating at all or an overly introspective heartwrenchingness.

As for the tenor testifying be an earwitness to the life of Riley so tenderly encountered on the modally hinting 'Some Rain' and more anthemically on 'No Repeat.'

Certainly one of the best UK/Irish albums of the year so far almost five months in as for the No One Gets Saved title, the Buddha - more than Bud Powell - perhaps in that inspired iteration, perhaps, rings a bell. And ding dong Stone-Lonergan goes free-ish successfully most on the jagged 'No Repeat' where you get good rapport as the Connacht man, Simpson and Glaser finish each other's motivic sentences.

Bandleader the Jeff Clyne taught fomer Zoe Rahman player Hayhurst who grew up in Cambridge moves effortlessly beyond the confines of any bar lines that might impede his ideas most. There is a good abstract expressionist and colour saturated concept - see above - in the cover art, and as far as the sonics go the mastering has impact which is often so badly lacking on some releases if budgets need this part of the process to be skimped or too taken for granted. Finally, no one is pining for the fjords. Some jazzers think they must - at all times - but what's here proves such thinking fallacious if understandable given the massive impact Nordic jazz vibrations have exerted via ECM, Rune Grammofon and the fabulous Jazzland in recent decades. Out on Friday 31 May. Bag of Bones play Frederick Street pub 1000 Trades in Birmingham that night