Julian Argüelles, Circularity, Cam Jazz

From 2014. This feels like a moment. Birmingham-born Argüelles, 48, who made his name in the 1990s with albums such as Home Truths and Scapes plays tenor and soprano saxophones...

Published: 2 Dec 2019. Updated: 11 days.

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From 2014. This feels like a moment. Birmingham-born Argüelles, 48, who made his name in the 1990s with albums such as Home Truths and Scapes plays tenor and soprano saxophones here joined by pianist and Cam Jazz label mate John Taylor, bass don Dave Holland, and Spin Marvel drummer Martin France for an acoustic set comprised of original Argüelles material specially written for the quartet.

A member of Loose Tubes from 1985-89, Argüelles joins the reformed band playing baritone sax in the line-up for festival and club dates in the spring. Circularity, don’t be misled, is a serious but not a starkly ascetic album as it’s full of some very strong and forceful playing from Argüelles that does not tackle texture as much as deliver line after line of gutsy and demanding intervallic explorations.

There’s nothing fragile about the saxophone lines and France, on an anthemic Ballamy-esque tune such as ‘A Lifelong Moment’, has to practically restrain his three other colleagues champing at the bit from just going too far and spiralling out of control. That’s at the end of the album but it begins with the wonderful funky springy bass of Dave Holland on ‘Triality’ where there’s momentum in abundance. Recorded last summer in Sussex all the pieces have a certain intensity to them, nothing is cut and dried about the themes, and they feel as if there’s a highly evolving thought process at play, say in the piano introduction of Taylor’s on ‘Lardy Dardy’, later Argüelles shimmeringly compulsive on soprano saxophone; or what about the “unsquare dance” feel of the title track itself? Brian Morton in the notes draws comparison persuasively in Argüelles’ approach to the style of Joe Henderson and like Henderson Argüelles is able to reach deep into the spiritual core of the material to hand, and on a slow pensive ballad such as ‘A Simple Question’ this aspect of what is an excellent record is most striking. SG

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