Rob Luft, Life is the Dancer

Naturalistic, new melodic, certainly the art of song is at the heart of this latest record from British guitarist Rob Luft. But let's not forget Luft is first and foremost an improviser and so a combination of both inputs make for a heartland jazz …

Published: 17 Apr 2020. Updated: 19 months.

Naturalistic, new melodic, certainly the art of song is at the heart of this latest record from British guitarist Rob Luft. But let's not forget Luft is first and foremost an improviser and so a combination of both inputs make for a heartland jazz listen. He certainly has his own unique highly virtuosic sound and it's not just an amalgam of two or three greats distilled into a compromise vehicle. Three years on from Riser Luft's profile rose considerably last year with his superb Coltrane and Monk themed quartet album that he co-led with Dave O'Higgins.

On puckishly titled Life is the Dancer the familiarity factor is not there because the album is mostly comprised of his originals and yet it's easy to feel at home after a few minutes. Don't expect it to be an exercise in ravey davey go-cut-a-rug grooves (if you want that GoGo Penguin's 'Kora' just out is what the doctor of the dancefloor prescribes). The title track instead while not intent on navel gazing has a pastoral airy anthemic sense to it, Luna Cohen's vocals adding a new age wash and Byron Wallen factors in some fast fingered motion to add pace. (Rob is on Byron's superb new Portrait: Reflections on Belonging which to my mind is the best UK jazz album of 2020 to date by a mile.)

With Luft, Joe Wright on sax makes his presence felt. The band has another Joe, Joe Webb on organ and piano. Tom McCredie is workmanlike on bass and Corrie Dick fluent on drums. However, this isn't so much a band record rather a wonderful showcase for Luft's talents. His teasing manipulation of electronics is just one standout aspect of his striking individuality. Back in February I picked 'Berlin' from the album as a track of the day and listening to it again today the hypnotically chugging along melodicism of the Anders (''AC'') Christensen tune remains a joy. SG

Out now on Edition.

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Marie Kruttli Trio, The Kind of Happy One

From the very first throb of bass yes we are defiantly back in piano trio territory with a bang and once again the Swiss lead the way. The piano is quite superbly recorded but more significantly than that check just what happens when pianist Marie …

Published: 16 Apr 2020. Updated: 2 years.

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From the very first throb of bass yes we are defiantly back in piano trio territory with a bang and once again the Swiss lead the way. The piano is quite superbly recorded but more significantly than that check just what happens when pianist Marie Kruttli comes in on 'Back to Blue.'

Joined by Lukas Traxel on upright bass and Jonathan Barber, out on the road last year with Pat Metheny, on drums, this is taut, deep song. Kruttli has classical chops but don't let that put you off and she shows how she knows about flow in a jazz sense throughout.

'L'Intrépide' is the most interesting composition perhaps; you get a sense of a narrative and a real personality. In the trioplay there is a great sense of rubato rippling through. I can't think of any pianist who sounds like Kruttli or one who can harness such a powerful intensity and use it in any way she wishes. Perhaps Pablo Held a bit or even closer the style of Julia Kadel figure in such a reckoning up. Regardless, all of The Kind of Happy One, surely a nice irony in the titling given the album's overall darkness, bespeaks quality from beginning to end. SG

Out now on the QFTF label.

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