Robocobra Quartet, Living Isn't Easy, First Taste Records ****

Spoken word with your punk-jazz? Robocobra have been around a while boosted by Belfast promoter Moving on Music and breaking out beyond the local scene via wider appreciation and word of mouth. The ''punk-jazz'' is really about energy so create a …

Published: 19 Jun 2022. Updated: 16 days.

Spoken word with your punk-jazz? Robocobra have been around a while boosted by Belfast promoter Moving on Music and breaking out beyond the local scene via wider appreciation and word of mouth. The ''punk-jazz'' is really about energy so create a Venn diagram with free-jazz skronking on the left, dingy dystopian beat spoken word poetry on the right and in the middle that's the kind of punk jazz you move towards.

Radically different to the punk jazz of the Morecroftian maelstrom found in the music of kindred spirits WorldService Project for instance edgy drummer leader Chris Ryan who also does the messianic vocals is eminently charismatic as a ''front'' man while the band heart is centred on bass guitarists Nathan Rodgers and the multi-tasking Ryan Burrowes. Tom Tabori, Peter Howard and Thibault Barillon do the skronking. I liked 'Flew Close' better than 'Wellness' and went searching for more extensive improvisation and the sweary 'Labyrinth' suggests the start of such a thread. A band who appeal more to non-jazz fans than jazz heads depending on taste perhaps. That doesn't matter at all. Living Isn't Easy preaches to the converted and that number is growing all the time. This record will accelerate that process. SG

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Yellowjackets, Intrigue, Mack Avenue ****

Track of the day is a familiar sound given that Yellowjackets have been around for decades. The accent is on unadorned musicianship. Flavoured by bass guitar 'Intrigue' has a mobility to it and fed in the comping of founder member Russell Ferrante …

Published: 19 Jun 2022. Updated: 16 days.

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Track of the day is a familiar sound given that Yellowjackets have been around for decades. The accent is on unadorned musicianship. Flavoured by bass guitar 'Intrigue' has a mobility to it and fed in the comping of founder member Russell Ferrante against the fertile Dane Alderson line is full of spirit. Alderson is an Aussie and has been with the US band since 2015. When Ferrante's piano solo comes it feels youthful and alive. For many the overriding Yellowjackets sound would be nothing without the gutsy sax lines of the great Bob Mintzer, a fixture in the band since the 1990s' Greenhouse. When we return to the theme eventually we certainly feel comfortably numb especially as the serpentine line goes lower down in the register. The theme itself is metrically tricky but not at all intense. When Mintzer improvises on it he runs through the changes succinctly without sounding as if he does. And crucially the saxist never forgets to tell a story which many technically obsessed players missing the plot too much often forget to do. Will Kennedy, who spent all of the 1990s in the band and has been back in the fold since 2010, on drums makes things seem very easy. You won't spend a better five-and-a-half listening to jazz today given what's new and around these last few weeks. Drawn from Parallel Motion out in late-August, this Mack Avenue release includes originals and a guest vocal from Jean Baylor.

Yellowjackets top from left to right: Will Kennedy, Russell Ferrante, Dane Alderson, Bob Mintzer. Photo: press

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