Spectacular title track of Warmer Than Blood in all quietude streams

Whirlwind is going through a purple patch these last few weeks in spite of everything introducing new music week in week out. This intimate title track heralding ''Warmer Than Blood'' is the latest indicator. Most of the weekend I spent poring over …

Published: 23 Mar 2020. Updated: 2 months.

Whirlwind is going through a purple patch these last few weeks in spite of everything introducing new music week in week out. This intimate title track heralding ''Warmer Than Blood'' is the latest indicator. Most of the weekend I spent poring over what's new on Michael Janisch's label and simply marvelling.

And so to an all-star all-leader trio working in all democracy that revels in its maturity and flexibility last heard live by marlbank in another context the trio in question here, Chris Montague on guitar on this track anyway completely disregarding his Holdsworthian compass ventures into deep song with pianist Kit Downes and Kit's wife brilliant bass guitarist Ruth Goller, were with James Maddren in that feisty protest singer Sarah Gillespie's band in Limerick city on a very memorable night in Dolans Warehouse last autumn. No drummer or singer in sight however on 'Warmer Than Blood.'

I haven't heard Kit Downes play like this before. He is at his most romantic certainly, not in a corny sense, and manages to imbue the yearning flavour of the piece with an extra unfathomable element, the tune somehow magical that in parallel fashion John Taylor, Norma Winstone and Kenny Wheeler created in their Azimuth days.

Montague, I suppose the UK's greatest jazz guitarist since John McLaughlin yet still ridiculously underknown to a wider international audience, and certainly in a pantheon that includes such different players of remarkable genius as Derek Bailey, John Etheridge, Mike Walker, Phil Robson and Shirley Tetteh down the years proves himself more than ever as a composer. Recorded last year in one of the most jazz-friendly studios, Eastcote in Kensal Road, London, look for this album on the other side when we get there, inshallah, in May. SG

Tags: 2020 best so far tracks / albums

Johnny Cash classic gets the Rudresh treatment

Now this throws me. The lead-off track to the upcoming Rudresh Mahanthappa album Hero Trio (Whirlwind) is a version of the June Carter-Merle Kilgore song made his own by Johnny Cash 'Ring of Fire'. The altoist stays close to the theme initially, …

Published: 23 Mar 2020. Updated: 2 months.

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Now this throws me. The lead-off track to the upcoming Rudresh Mahanthappa album Hero Trio (Whirlwind) is a version of the June Carter-Merle Kilgore song made his own by Johnny Cash 'Ring of Fire'. The altoist stays close to the theme initially, with Rudy Royston rustling in the background and double bassist François Moutin pretty sturdy behind him. There are hints Mahanthappa is having a bit of fun but he seems to resist the temptation of playing around too much… and then there is the improvisation. He's always been a bebopper and he starts going up and down the scale within that wide angled lens, does double time bursts and more before coming back to the tempo he started out with which is fairly stately. Royston and Moutin are not his stooges but stay pretty much to faithfully sticking with the familiar aspects of the infrastructure of the tune, Moutin getting a little melodic himself. We are not talking deadpan here, more a case of it is what it is.

Actually a not too shabby treatment of a song I neither love nor hate but cannot avoid given in the days when you could step on to licensed premises without fear of contracting a fatal disease the chances were the pub singer would do a version of it before too long or someone would line the song up to play on the jukebox.

OK Sonny Rollins was on tenor not its bro in e♭ but check what the great one did in a similar format on Way Out West. Rudy Royston resists the urge to go clippety clop that Shelly Manne could not, it must be said.

Hero Trio was recorded less than two months ago in a New York studio. Mostly covers, and not country classics besides this one it's worth saying in case you get the wrong idea, there is an intriguing seque from Bird to Trane on 'Barbados/26-2' that I for one am looking forward to hearing when the album is out. Hopefully it all burns, burns, burns. How could it not? SG

Rudresh Mahanthappa, top. Photo: Bandcamp.