Sunny Five, Candid, Intakt ***1/2

Spiky and no nonsense Candid is hardcore improvising from a quintet that certainly takes no prisoners. What the Sunny Five - the pervasive mood is dystopian and consistently noir-ish - altoist Tim Berne, guitarists David Torn and Marc Ducret, bass …

Published: 28 Jan 2024. Updated: 30 days.

Spiky and no nonsense Candid is hardcore improvising from a quintet that certainly takes no prisoners. What the Sunny Five - the pervasive mood is dystopian and consistently noir-ish - altoist Tim Berne, guitarists David Torn and Marc Ducret, bass guitarist Devin Hoff and drummer Ches Smith - deliver on this challenging album recorded in in 2022 in New Haven is highly abstract, sometimes fierce and angry like an avant rock record, sometimes more electronic and thoughtfully serene - and there is a helluva lot of music here: 'Floored', one of the four tracks, alone is over a half an hour long. Really you need to be an avant fan to appreciate Candid most - a music of compromise this is not - it's more a manifesto that fights against complacency and musical structures that constrain and imprison us all.

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Marshall Gilkes and the WDR Big Band, LifeSongs, WDR/Alternate Side Records ****

The things that I took away most out of this latest recording by Marshall Gilkes and the WDR Big Band were threefold: firstly, LifeSongs' sense of control - there isn't any grandstanding and for an orchestra as powerful as the WDR there is a lot of …

Published: 27 Jan 2024. Updated: 31 days.

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The things that I took away most out of this latest recording by Marshall Gilkes and the WDR Big Band were threefold: firstly, LifeSongs' sense of control - there isn't any grandstanding and for an orchestra as powerful as the WDR there is a lot of subtlety that isn't lost in the scaling up; secondly, the sheer melodic richness of the writing where you get a very yearning West Wing-like graceful soaring quality, particularly on 'My Unanswered Prayer' and 'Longing for Home; and thirdly almost a brass band quality to the horns here which gives the sound a lot of personality and honesty. While not a record that swings relentlessly all the time or wallows in some fake nostalgic past there's a get down swagger on 'Back in the Groove' that is pretty satisfying. Mostly trombonist Marshall Gilkes' tunes plus a version of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's 'This Nearly Was Mine' and vocalist Sabeth Pérez appears on the traditional song 'All the Pretty Little Horses' it's a treat for big band lovers and agnostic big band followers alike - and just as complete a listen as Köln all those years ago. SG