Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Sean Khan, Sean Khan Presents the Modern Jazz and Folk Ensemble, Acid Jazz ****

Illuminating background on London-based saxophonist Sean Khan in local paper the Fermanagh Herald recently. According to Charlotte McCutcheon who wrote the piece, Khan's mother is from the Fermanagh village of Belcoo which is right on the …

Published: 30 May 2024. Updated: 50 days.

Illuminating background on London-based saxophonist Sean Khan in local paper the Fermanagh Herald recently.

According to Charlotte McCutcheon who wrote the piece, Khan's mother is from the Fermanagh village of Belcoo which is right on the invisible border with the Republic of Ireland and he spent a lot of his childhood there and went to school in nearby Florencecourt.

“My mother was a huge music fan and when I returned to London she insisted I start learning an instrument, as music lessons were free at my school. In Ireland, I was a regular listener to the folk tales and myths that surrounded the history of the Enniskillen area, especially being border country (I was a regular visitor to the village of Blacklion [across the bridge and into County Cavan]) there were many tales,'' Khan tells the Herald.

And that strong folk flavour transmits itself here from the off but the jazz sensibility is intact and you don't feel it is bolted on like some sort of uneasy or worse architecturally wrong house extension.

The legendary Jacqui McShee of Pentangle and new guitarist and jazz-singer songwriter vocals star Rosie Frater-Taylor are among the guests and the album's very clear sonics will poke your ears out.

There's a brilliant version of John Martyn 1973 classic 'Solid Air' beloved of many jazzers and folkies with a fine solo from Khan. Hopefully, the saxist can be tempted over to play a gig in jazz starved but traditional Irish and country'n'Irish-rich Fermanagh some time. This project joins the dots in so many ways. Opening archaically almost with a ghostly tale - 'She Moves Through the Fair' was collected by Irish poet Padraic Colum and musicologist Herbert Hughes and published in 1909 but undoubtedly is much, much older. Pertinently Neil Spencer in The Observer writes that the album is ''a fascinating reset for the genre'' - how true.

Tags: Reviews

Nir Felder, III, La Reserve ***1/2

A decade on from Golden Age this latest is just as immediate. To riff on the famous Hoagy Carmichael song ''It's not the pale moon that excites me that thrills and delights me oh no. It's just the Nirness of you.'' When legendary record company …

Published: 30 May 2024. Updated: 42 days.

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A decade on from Golden Age this latest is just as immediate. To riff on the famous Hoagy Carmichael song ''It's not the pale moon that excites me that thrills and delights me oh no. It's just the Nirness of you.''

When legendary record company executive Wulf Müller was at the helm of the Sony-owned freshly revivified OKeh - sadly now inactive yet again - one of the best new artist signings the great A&R man made was guitarist Nir Felder whose Golden Age was one of the best releases of 2014. Live he doesn't disappoint either as evidenced in Logan Richardson's band Shift in 2016. Following on from 2020's II, 'Longest Star' is the pick of this new studio recording from the New Yorker because of a particularly effective guitar solo where Felder goes into a fabulous Pat Metheny-like space. Felder, who is now 41, plays not only guitar, mandolin and banjo but dubs in electric sitar and feeds in other touches on keys. The bassist is James Farm star Matt Penman with Jimmy Macbride on drums who proved tasty with Nick Finzer last year on Dreams, Visions, Illusions.

There's an ethereal vocal from May Cheung way back in the mix blink and you'd miss it perhaps on the tramping feel of 'Longest Star' but still a plus factor that recalls the kind of Mark Ledford presence conveyed within the flow of a classic Metheny tune. The opener 'Mallets' is something of an outlier as Felder is on it with the great Kevin Hays, English bassist Orlando Le Fleming and Macbride and yet the compositional sense - a pastoral, sort of 1970s jazz Americana sound and vision - is the same. The twist is that Felder is winningly a bit Sco-like here although his sound is nowhere near as viscerally scalding as Scofield's can so often be. The drummer's swung feel on 'Cold Heaven' is excellent and we liked the notes that hang in the air most on thinking about the impact of 'Longest Star' again. The twinkling 'Era's End' and the lapping haven't-a-care-in-the-world feel of 'Sea of Miracles' also appeal.