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The best known player is the most imaginative free-jazz drummer of his generation on the UK scene, Mark Sanders, who is always worth hearing. The pianist is only starting to get his name out but Noah Stoneman seemed the fully formed article appearing with Xhosa Cole, Jay Phelps and Jim Bashford playing the Larry Young organ role on some Unity themed gigs a few years ago.
This live-in-north-London recording couldn't be more different given Live At MAP is free improv. And pretty compelling at that. Appearing at the up and coming jazz musician-friendly venue Kentish Town cafe spot MAP last October, the double bassist here is unknown to us but also in addition to Stoneman and Sanders makes a strong impression. This guy, Caius Williams, who has been gigging with the likes of Tom Challenger over the past year operates in a Henry Grimes state of mind. Zeroing in a bit more: Stoneman plays particularly on the 2nd of these fine improvisations like Craig Taborn and proves once again that he is one of the most exciting and technically gifted pianists to come along on the UK jazz scene since Kit Downes and gaves a further indication of his sheer versatility in addition to what we know of his playing so far.
Given the humble circumstances of both the way this recording is issued and the way it was recorded in non-fancy conditions (when there is a little speaking, the audio crumbles into mumbles and the way the clapping is recording is vicar tea party fare) just what Stoneman, Sanders and Williams might be able to do in a studio is a tantalising prospect. You might think seeing and hearing this on a sonics level: oh just a nothing-fancy live album, only on download and streaming for free - so what. But the pro side holds more water: no hype gets in the way. There isn't any imposed or wacky A&R thinking to mess with the players' minds. And there is mercifully not a hint of any nutty requirement to play some sort of parachuted-in inappropriate standard. What is here instead are four beefy improvisations all worthwhile - no vegetarian options are available - running in at some 17-19 minutes-long each. If new to Stoneman this recording may well make your day. Something of a Rorschach inkblot test of an outing - the artwork at the very least seems to be suggesting - but the only disorder is the welcome and stimulating right thinking fervour. Download the album here. Map Studio Cafe, photo: Twitter