Vincent Courtois, Love of Life

“I discovered Jack London fairly recently – in August 2016. This work so powerful, so rich, has been by my side ever since. In my daily life, a companion on my travels and an inspiration to my music. That’s where I see Jack London’s real force as …

Published: 21 Feb 2020. Updated: 6 months.

“I discovered Jack London fairly recently – in August 2016. This work so powerful, so rich, has been by my side ever since. In my daily life, a companion on my travels and an inspiration to my music. That’s where I see Jack London’s real force as being: an intimate sensitive ability to reach into our lives with his own, to become the friend, brother, comrade in whose company each day brings a new story. The necessity of a journey across the Atlantic to play this music on the footsteps of Jack London became obvious. Ultimately, it led the trio to record this album in his hometown, Oakland,” says cellist Vincent Courtois.

The results are wonderful whether ''makin' whoopee'' on 'Am I Blue' or deeply reflective elsewhere Courtois with reedist Robin Fincker and saxophonist Daniel Erdmann are painting vibrant pictures as a synecdoche for adventure, a miniature world that expands ever exponentially. Stephen Graham

Love of Life is out now on La Buissonne.

Jack London, top. Photo: Wikipedia.

Tags: 2020 best so far tracks / albums

Jim Hart & Ivo Neame, Multiverse

Back in the dying days of October we reported that pianist Ivo Neame had teamed up with drummer/vibist Jim Hart for a duo project. “The album took two and a half years to finish and involved some extremely long drives for me between London and …

Published: 21 Feb 2020. Updated: 7 months.

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Back in the dying days of October we reported that pianist Ivo Neame had teamed up with drummer/vibist Jim Hart for a duo project. “The album took two and a half years to finish and involved some extremely long drives for me between London and Alsace; drives which I undertook in a Ford Fiesta loaded with all kinds of keyboards,” said Ivo at the time.

While billed as a duo, poor old Matt Calvert does not get his name on the cover. Might he be miffed? Perhaps. He does after all provide synths, sampling, electronics and other inputs. Multiverse is quite a dense listen and I suppose that is what an album that has lots of production layers involving lots of electronics tends to project. That is to its advantage, just to point out, not to its detriment. The album does pivot away from the overly complex at key points and shortcircuits possible elephant traps by not forgetting about intimacy.

Neame sounds quite different to anything that I've heard him on before and Hart, last heard playing Dublin with Bex Burch and Tom Herbert just before Christmas in the band Vula Viel, again is a chameleon. 'The Exchange' drives a Chick Corea-like routine that goes deeper the more you listen; 'Au Contraire' plays with stillness; 'Room 1003' is song-like and unveils Neame's clarinet playing.

I see this album as an experiment and a calling card for both players who are moving into new areas. Both are serious composers and maybe the future will see their stature as such grow ever more in this direction. Certainly the signs are there. 'Serie de Arco' perhaps finds the album as its most distinctive as Hart reaches for mallets and Neame moving in and out of avant garde space converse obliquely. 'Transference' has a unique motif to start proceedings and the ''Multiversers'' spin several plates at once in a dazzling routine. 'Back Home' is personal and this is where the trio really find their own space, in a quiet world of interiors that only they know. All of the above contributes to a very fine debut. SG

On Edition. Out now.