While the promo presentation, artwork and approach seems let's be frank a little staid that isn't what's most important and there is a reason for it. And that reason is that the release is aiming at classical fans of jazz and appears on a classical label. Of course the style is a retrospective glance at a classic era. Caveats on the table duly established for the surface considerations as for substance there is nothing at all staid or straight about the performance by the Julian Bliss septet. While the leader is a stellar classical player who has good jazz chops the band all out-rank Bliss in the sense that they are largely specialist jazz players. The important thing to note is this isn't a classical leader dabbling in jazz. Probably vibist Lewis Wright (Empirical) and trumpeter Martin Shaw are the best known of this stellar band to UK jazz fans while of course Bliss is more famous to UK classical fans. Good to see the UK scene's very own Christian McBride bassist Tim Thornton playing in the band too. Musicianship is higher up here than just juggling star power as an almost final word.
But before heading off for further listening and noting that attention to detail in terms of the sound and A&R-ing is first class the label is now doing what Telarc did in its heyday in that sense referred to earlier of selling jazz to classical lovers from classical turf. How classical is sold to jazz lovers from jazz turf may be far more difficult and only ECM really know how to do this via the New Series not that the two communities are necessarily separate at all although they sometimes divide into two camps through trends.
Rhythm changes have been very important in modernist jazz styles since the 1930s, 40 and 50s. Gershwin is like Shakespeare. Records like I Got Rhythm keep us grounded as the veneer is stripped off and we can get down to the nitty gritty of the sounds themselves just as listening to Charlie Parker regularly also does especially if tackled faithfully. So music for the concert hall more than the club in this incarnation nonetheless a must listen for all of the above reasons as you will discover if this evening you faithfully dive straight in. SG
Out now. Julian Bliss, top. Photo: Signum Classics