Max Luthert, Orbital, Whirlwind Recordings

From 2014. A skilful sextet album led by Max Luthert, debuting as a leader in the studio, the bassist, best known for his work in Partikel, showing a strong compositional method here. All his own tunes, beginning with ‘Grand Designs’, there is a …

Published: 4 Dec 2019. Updated: 2 years.

From 2014. A skilful sextet album led by Max Luthert, debuting as a leader in the studio, the bassist, best known for his work in Partikel, showing a strong compositional method here.

All his own tunes, beginning with ‘Grand Designs’, there is a lot of jazz history in the Luthert imagination that manages to encompass hard bop, Cool, and even chamber jazz terrain, Duncan Eagles’ tenor saxophone sounding more Wayne Shorter-like than ever Eagles does alongside Luthert in Partikel, and so tender in his own playing voice for instance on the ballad ‘Quiet December.’

Drummer Dave Hamblett is a stimulatingly perky presence but he has, surrounded by players so innately rhythmic, to fight for space particularly on the climax of ‘The Edgewall’.

Even if there aren’t too many silences somehow a spatial sense is invoked despite the hustle and bustle of the arrangements especially on the absorbing ‘Pacific Before Tiger.’

Recorded in October last year a very mature work for a debut, some very “at ease” blowing, altoist Séb Pipe’s taut, dramatic sound blending in well. Flautist Gareth Lockrane offers plenty of timbral variety, particularly on a standout solo passage of ‘Assam’ where pianist Matt Robinson backing him manages to channel a John Taylor-like atmosphere.

Luthert has a fine sense of time and a big jazz vocabulary at his disposal, his modernistic sound encompassing the bass tradition that stretches from Richard Davis to Dave Holland. SG

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Zoë Gilby, Twelve Stories, 33Jazz Records

From 2013. Singer Zoë Gilby’s first record since Looking Glass three years ago here accompanied by her quartet together for some five years now of trumpeter Noel Dennis, guitarist Mark Williams, her husband ACV double bassist Andy Champion, and …

Published: 4 Dec 2019. Updated: 2 years.

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From 2013. Singer Zoë Gilby’s first record since Looking Glass three years ago here accompanied by her quartet together for some five years now of trumpeter Noel Dennis, guitarist Mark Williams, her husband ACV double bassist Andy Champion, and drummer Richard Brown.

Recorded in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the album includes spirited songs that Gilby has co-written with Williams and Champion, as well as a fine version of Kate Bush’s ‘In The Warm Room’ from Bush’s 1978 album Lionheart, a slightly menacing take on ‘Money’ from Pink Floyd’s 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon, a chilly version of Great American Songbook standard ‘It Never Entered My Mind’, that hugely familiar Rodgers and Hart song from 1940, plus the Ellingtonian valve trombonist Juan Tizol’s ‘Caravan’ first performed in the 1930s that Irving Mills added lyrics to, a tune that Gilby and her band swing the album out on.

With a certain gritty personality poking through Twelve Stories starts with a seque from Michel Legrand’s ‘Windmills of your Mind’ into Jobim’s ‘Waters of March' a tactic that clearly demonstrates the quality of Gilby’s voice and her technical command on testing material even if switching like this might work better towards the end of a live gig than as the opening track of an album. That aside the well crafted original song ‘Guilty Man’ could sit happily on a Barb Jungr record, and Gilby shares with Jungr, and for that matter Christine Tobin, an ambition and artistry that moves beyond a simple nostalgia for old songs. The hubbub at the beginning of ‘Red City’ is just a small pointer away from the norm in the way the songs here are shaped, as well as the obvious promise and quality of the bright new songs. SG