On tremendous form over the last few years – I’m thinking of Circularity primarily, last year’s fine quartet album which also featured the presence of Dave Holland, but not forgetting the more recent South-African-themed big band affair Let It Be Told into the bargain – saxophonist Julian Argüelles also part of the reformed Loose Tubes, has, if anything, gone one better playing a blinder with Tetra. It’s easily one of his best albums in a substantial discography to date and I’d go further: you’ll struggle to find a better jazz album released in 2015 anywhere than this.
The band is incredibly strong and united under one banner (Argüelles is joined by pianist Kit Downes, bassist Sam Lasserson and drummer James Maddren) the leader fashioning a definitive sounding tenor and soprano saxophone sound that hovers somewhere close to the mood of Jan Garbarek at his most majestic. There’s a terse no nonsense side to Argüelles’ soloing, all ECM-like cool and tranquil but capable too of an explosively cathartic letting-go.
All his own tunes, with one based on Spanish folk songs, there’s an engaging directness about the material and no matter how convoluted the improvisations become there’s always a sense that Argüelles is communicating intimately with the listener, pianist Downes’ advanced unsettling harmonic underlay giving every melodic scrap nuance, the drama deepened by frothing rhythm and ingenious beat from Maddren and Lasserson.
Recorded in York in January last year in just one day the album is simply presented, the CD nestling inside a simple cardboard sleeve sporting the picture of the band you see at the top of this review taken by photographer Monika Jakubowska. The presentation betrays no clue as to the huge power rising from the quartet at all times when you put the CD on. An excellent album that deserves to be widely heard.
Released on 16 October. The quartet are on tour in October and November following release beginning with a gig at the Sage in Gateshead on 26 October. Full details: here