Ishmael Ensemble and Rider Shafique, New Era, Severn Songs (EP) ***

What's the meaning of life, tell me what's your reasons and why? Such a great line delivered winningly by Rider Shafique in the chorus for 'Reasons'. And even better are we living simply to die? Down tempo pervasively with a slight Levantine twist …

Published: 10 Feb 2023. Updated: 12 months.

What's the meaning of life, tell me what's your reasons and why? Such a great line delivered winningly by Rider Shafique in the chorus for 'Reasons'. And even better are we living simply to die? Down tempo pervasively with a slight Levantine twist in its core lilting saxophone modality the Anthony Joseph-like Shafique (''like'' because he is very poetic and a good communicator of his own lyrics) on the very inviting 'Polestar' is strikingly listenable to. The ensemble vamp very modishly. A groove band excelling at a low intensity slacker Internetty, unglossy tempo, Rory O’Gorman's drumming sounds distant in the mix but remains very tactile as he holds the beat back. There's not much more length wise than you can listen to during a short tea break. Standing in a field as the sun goes down after another scorching day with something quaffably ice cold in your hand and a mighty sound system making so many waves right atcha that your syrup is likely to vamoose Alex Heane's bass nudged up to the optimum live even better maybe is probably the right place at the right time and the right head space to hear all this in. O'Gorman's best of all on the very happening chant-along 'Reasons' and what Shafique can conjure here - these basic, immediate impact, ''mystic paths'' that he journeys on travelling man song 'Polestar' - is a something for the weekend treat. Out today

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Brad Mehldau: Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays The Beatles, Nonesuch ****

''In the cheaper seats you clap your hands. The rest of you, just rattle your jewellery'' - John Lennon The need to play the Beatles doesn't exist unless you need to play the Beatles. The Jarrett of his generation is a force of nature and changed, …

Published: 10 Feb 2023. Updated: 12 months.

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''In the cheaper seats you clap your hands. The rest of you, just rattle your jewellery'' - John Lennon

The need to play the Beatles doesn't exist unless you need to play the Beatles. The Jarrett of his generation is a force of nature and changed, is still changing, jazz piano in recent decades for the better. But imagine Keith Jarrett in his heyday doing a Beatles album.

Pretty unthinkable, huh? This particular American is cut from a different cloth despite the comparison given his technical gifts and makes everything here like Brad.

Solo piano isn't at all rock and roll unless, the elephant in the room, you just wanted to hear the late Jerry Lee Lewis on his own. Happily you get the pachydermial chills and a rock and roll left hand to savour if your mind drifts towards the visceral impact of the Killer on 'I Saw Her Standing There.'

'For No One' from Revolver is beautiful full stop. The best thing among many riches here. The quieter the pianist is the bigger the impact because he knows how to do vulnerability and quietude coiled within a powerful presence. There are no shortages of jazz versions even of this slightly less celebrated classic. Even the perennially unhip wrangler of the clarinet hero to many of you cardigan wearing toe tappers out there, Ken Peplowski, did a very fine poignant one a decade ago.

A live album - the room and piano sound incredible (yes you can beyond all bluffing tell) - no wonder ffs it's the Philharmonie de Paris in September 2020. What do you do when the album's over? Listen to more Beatles rather than dive into Brad's back catalogue. Ah you see. But the dangers of living vicariously do not apply and the whole exercise prior to today's official release has grabbed more headlines already for the American than anything he has done in ages. And yet it is an ever-so-polite album. Maybe he just had to get these exquisite miniatures out of his system before his next breakthrough. Includes, no matter how gratuitously it seems but no less enjoyably, some Bowie.

MORE READING:

  • Formation, the first review of Mehldau's incredible new memoir published next month