Nicole McCabe, Landscapes, Fresh Sound ***

Nicole McCabe does nothing fancy here but does it very well. If you are into Martin Speake, or to an extent a less sped-up version of the great Zhenya Strigalev, you will find a lot to admire here. Certainly the US alto saxophonist has a firm grip …

Published: 29 Oct 2022. Updated: 38 days.

Nicole McCabe does nothing fancy here but does it very well. If you are into Martin Speake, or to an extent a less sped-up version of the great Zhenya Strigalev, you will find a lot to admire here. Certainly the US alto saxophonist has a firm grip on the arc of an improvisation within a compositional framework that makes sense and her role within it. The players that McCabe surrounds herself with know how to work together as a unit.

Particularly impressive in that regard is bassist Logan Kane whose role in 'Finding Beauty in an Unexpected Place' is even more absorbing the quieter it becomes if that isn't too much of a paradigm shift for the listeners among us who like to add some extra glue to their wigs when the bald if brutal truth of sheer blowing power forces a gone with the wind disappearing act.

Above all the tunes written in the language of an ease-with-itself very studied contemporary vision of bebop are convincing. There's not too much peril here looking in the rear view mirror. Kane leads off the title track and it's here where Paul Cornish on piano sparkles. (Cornish and Kane are on David Binney's beautifully arranged 2022 release Tomorrow's Journey.) But the vocalising on the slightly overlong 'Portsmouth' while sweet doesn't add as much as its pleasant melody promises.

Still a new name to discover McCabe - who was championed by George Colligan earlier in her career and who appearing on 2020's Introducing Nicole McCabe - is someone whose career you'd hope would rocket further into all our consciousness given the clear potential this record so emphatically displays.

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Matt Carmichael, Marram, Edition ****

''It's bloody Brigadoon''. Gareth, Four Weddings And A Funeral. Not at all. And yet jazz with a Scottish twist here is as plentiful a catch as has landed at Peterhead in a long while. The Caledonian sound is up there and personal and straight …

Published: 28 Oct 2022. Updated: 40 days.

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''It's bloody Brigadoon''. Gareth, Four Weddings And A Funeral.

Not at all. And yet jazz with a Scottish twist here is as plentiful a catch as has landed at Peterhead in a long while.

rsz_matt_carmichael_solo_1_photo_by_camille_lemoine_

The Caledonian sound is up there and personal and straight off the bat on 'The Far Away Ones' and pervasive throughout Marram. The lilting way with a gracenote from saxophonist Matt Carmichael and pals is fresh and appealing. The sound translates live. Hearing Carmichael back in 2018 proved that well before the big interest in the new Scottish scene really kicked in. Carmichael that time in a gig at the Vortex was with bassist Ali Watson who is here on Marram as is Scottish jazzer of the moment, this year's Scottish Album of the Year winner, pianist Fergus McCreadie. Drummer, the quartet's own Baby Spice, Tom Potter, is in tow and fiddler Charlie Stewart who wasn't there that night we caught the lads in east London is the crucial ingredient as if you like the band's Bez given his mercurial dancing quality. A far more complete and satisfying article than last year's Where Will the River Flow it's true enough that not since the avant Caber scene in the 1990s thanks to Tom Bancroft back in the day has the Scottish scene proved so invigorating. Marram has a chirpy positive folky feel to it that might be an aquired taste for some. But a cèilidh is always seemingly about to break out and kilt wearing is mercifully strictly optional.

Out today

Matt Carmichael, photo: Camille Lemoine