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Partisans, Swamp, Whirlwind

From 2014. Back for their first album in five years Partisans re-invented jazz-rock on the UK scene in the late-1990s not that it was particularly apparent at the time. Hindsight, typically, is the only exact science. The four piece, co-led by …

Published: 28 Nov 2019. Updated: 17 months.

From 2014. Back for their first album in five years Partisans re-invented jazz-rock on the UK scene in the late-1990s not that it was particularly apparent at the time. Hindsight, typically, is the only exact science. The four piece, co-led by saxophonist/clarinettist Julian Siegel, and guitarist Phil Robson, with Thaddeus Kelly on bass, and Gene Calderazzo, drums, have in the space of more than a decade and a half put out four albums the last three By Proxy, Max and Sourpuss on Babel, with their self-titled debut in 1997 appearing on the now long-gone EFZ.

Refreshed with an even more complex sound than before and now moving to Whirlwind Recordings, Swamp was recorded in February over a couple of days at London studio Eastcote.

With four tunes by Siegel and four by Robson (including the title track), it’s not all jazz-rock by any means, the album opens with tense morse code-like percussion on ‘Flip the Sneck’ and a high-life Afro-Caribbean lilt to Robson's guitar line Siegel sinuously exuberant on his first elaborate foray.

The mood is mellow on ‘Low Glow’ Robson Sco-like with subtle development from bass and drums the plot thickening quickly. ‘Thin Man’ has more of a tortured ballad feel to it, Siegel on bass clarinet initially the shadowy foil to the main process of balladeering.

Title track ‘Swamp’ has a squally distorted wah-wah glaze to it, the quartet entering Wayne Shorter territory a little bit more, the tension gradually ratcheting up. 'Veto' allows Calderazzo to call the shots at the beginning, with a lively driving beat that then pushes Siegel and Robson on.

‘Overview’ has a Lionel Loueke-like impetus to it rhythmically via Robson while again Siegel shows his reflective side, with lots of tonal resource spilling out when he plays soprano saxophone here, Calderazzo carving the beat like a master carpenter. ‘Mickey’ and final track ‘Icicle Architects’ (the latter more a chamber piece) complete what is a very accomplished album with some world class ensemble playing throughout. SG

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Joe Armon-Jones makes Time magazine top 10 album list for 2019

Interesting that Time, a magazine that in 1964 put Thelonious Monk on its cover, picks the clubby DJ-friendly Turn to Clear View by Joe Armon-Jones among a top 10 that includes a bunch of big name pop, hip hop and rock acts. Armon-Jones was first …

Published: 28 Nov 2019. Updated: 55 days.

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Interesting that Time, a magazine that in 1964 put Thelonious Monk on its cover, picks the clubby DJ-friendly Turn to Clear View by Joe Armon-Jones among a top 10 that includes a bunch of big name pop, hip hop and rock acts.

Armon-Jones was first on the marlbank radar when the Old Etonian pianist played with Gary Crosby and Denys Baptiste in their version of A Love Supreme we reviewed back in 2015. Here is how Time and writer Andrew R. Chow describe their decision, their pick of the new London scene:

''This year, the standout release from the scene came from Ezra Collective’s keyboardist, Joe Armon-Jones. Turn to Clear View moves effortlessly between jazz, R&B and hip-hop without diluting any of the three art forms; the songwriting is sharp but leaves plenty of open spaces for fiery improvisation, particularly from Armon-Jones himself and Garcia on saxophone. Diverse, inspired appearances from the Los Angeles singer Georgia Anne Muldrow, the Nigerian-British Afrobeat star Obongjayar and the London rapper Jehst all serve as testaments to the flourishing breadth and intensity of the music of the modern black diaspora.'' Via Time read the Full list. Inclusion on the radar of this globally renowned mass market magazine's list should illuminate Armon Jones' profile Stateside that bit brighter without a shadow of a doubt.