Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Phil Robson IMS Quintet featuring Mark Turner - London Jazz Festival 2011

Purcell Room, South Bank, London. Tuesday 15th November 2011.

A themed concert seems to be a rare thing in the world of jazz, so it was really interesting to hear London based guitarist Phil Robson describing how all the tracks played tonight would reflect elements of communication, this occasion being the launch of his new album, ‘The Immeasurable Code’ from which all the tracks were taken. An impassive looking Mark Turner on saxophone, flown over from New York specially, joined Robson, along with the rest of the contributors to the album, Gareth Lockrane on flutes, Ernesto Simpson on drums and Michael Janisch on double bass.

Unresolved sequences of dense chord clusters were the order of the day for opening track, ‘Nassarius Beads’, Robson and Turner delivering appropriately spiky solos. ‘Telepathy and Telecommunication’ opened with a gorgeously exotic interplay between Lockrane and Janisch leading into Robson’s stark and unsettling arpeggio sequence. The foreboding latin tones of ‘Telegram’ were the highlight for me of this delightfully troubled set of tunes, its romantic 1940s mood being mixed with just a touch of menace. The fast swing of ‘Instant Message’ was another chance for Turner to shine with some harmonically rich note sweeps through a fast and fluid solo. Robson once again impressed with a forceful boppy solo demonstrating his pure round tone.

Simpson expertly grooved some tricky time signature changes on ‘Immeasurable Code’, Turner sweetly delivering the whirling soprano sax melody, before launching into more dense note cascades. Lockrane’s urgent biting flute then upped the energy levels, more than meeting the Turner’s gauntlet. On the graceful ‘Serenade’, Robson demonstrated he’s not immune to some classic guitar chord melody playing, with Lockrane’s flute playing perfectly complimenting the warm richness of the guitar. The track’s mood asked for a thoughtful double bass solo, and sure enough, that’s we got in-exemplar from Janisch.

I haven’t always been taken with Robson’s approach in the past, but I can happily say I’m now convinced. The playing and writing here is strong across the board. ‘The Immeasurable Code’ is definitely the right album for those dark nights of the soul, and that’s most certainly a credit in my book.

You can hear ‘The Immeasurable Code’ on Spotify.

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