A long time drummer with Gang of Four, Mark Heaney debuts his drum’n’bass-soaked jazz quartet Extemporize in September, the keys, muted trumpet and bass guitar respectively of Pete Billington, Stuart Henderson and Jerry Soffe completing the Capital line-up.
Opening with a Bob Belden-type flourish on the title track tapping back to the source and that Milesian electric rock feel from the 1970s Extemporize draw tantalisingly on a gritty jazz-noir ambience.
Moody trumpet from Henderson jutting into the belly of reverb-soaked Herbie Hancock-like keyboard textures executed by Billington establish the ball park sound, a float here and there of spoken word from an unidentified voice drifting across the echoey urban soundscapes of the opener.
A studio album recorded live over a couple of days, the band say they “wanted to capture a very organic raw gritty in the moment album with very little cutting or editing very much reflecting the band’s name and approach to their music.”
There is a life to the moody vamps and drama to Heaney’s high energy grooves (think Zach Danziger or Mark Guiliana a bit in the style) emerging organically towards the end of the title track that show the band is capable of delivering surprise after surprise, the writing episodic and spontaneous, big moments cropping up especially via swaggering keyboard on ‘Archive.’
Seven tracks in all, the big long whopper ‘Search’ kept to last with most of the others short enough to be played on the less regimented jazzrock-friendly radio stations if they exist at all these days when stations are too dazzled by supper club ephemera or avant snobbery to play music that jazz fans actually like and have pangs to hear in an unpretentious club somewhere preferably standing up to listen, the PA levels whacked up a bit.
This certainly isn’t sit-down-to-chinstroke-to jazz a fact that makes it all the more refreshing and worth checking out.
Heaney has produced the album and had a hand in the mix and there’s plenty of vitality and personality in the approach, the thing moves, and there’s an immediacy in the writing and performance ethic that makes the whole thing rattle and rip.
More on the project (****) in the video, above. Released on the band’s own label, available via this link