Moray Jazz Club Album Review

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We have been extraordinarily lucky at MJC to have had some very talented young student jazz musicians from The University of Aberdeen frequent our club in recent years. What has been refreshing is the variety of ensembles they have been involved in, from their own band Hamlet to quartets such as Sus4 alongside Colin Black and Brian Chalmers and Pete Lowit and Fraser Peterkin; and everything in between. The MJC blog gives exposure to their varied and rich contributions to the Club.
Whilst Matthew Kilner (tenor sax), Gavin Hunter(trumpet),Neil Kendal(guitar),Finley Campbell (Bass) and Richard Glassby (drums)have shown their skill and intuitive feel for both trad and contemporary jazz standards, they have, in their first album(Hamlet Act One), demonstrated a talent for original and diverse jazz that is a fusion of late 50’s a la Miles Davis through to afrobeat and 21C funk.
Listen to these six tracks with joy. There is a depth, tone and originality that is rare for a first album in which trumpet and saxophone parry with each other and  with superb embellishments from guitar, bass and drums. ‘Twenty3’ kicks off with Meil,Kendal’s subtle guitar with a rich bass lying on top of a Latin American intonation (think Herb Alpert). ‘En route to bass two’ is fun and funky with great solos by Matthew Kilner and Gavin Hunter. Listening to this made me think of the opening bars by Issac Hayes ‘Shaft’ with Santana undertones.  ‘Sunset Sunside’ starts with a muted bass by Finlay Campbell and Richard Glassby’s subtle cymbals. It features the talented Swedish singer Nadya Albertsson on vocals. Such a joyous relaxing three part track, it would be wonderful to hear Nadya at MJC. This is followed by a contrasting track ‘Switch States’ with its rap verses by Jackill; unusual to hear this on a jazz album, it works well. ‘The Illusion’ is a playful track with all the musicians joining in, almost saying ‘Hey, let’s have some fun’, and they do. The final track ‘Chip in the wall’ has a brilliant bass line throughout whilst guitar, trumpet and saxophone keep up a pacey,racey fusion of Latin American and African overtones. Enjoy.

 

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Back in 2017, a trio of years ago,when things were oh so different,a trio of musicians created an interpretative album of sublime classic jazz greats. The three are Trio Nadurra (Barry Middleton-Keyboard and piano, Pete Lowit-Double-Bass and Fraser Peterkin-Drums)and the album was ‘Under the Stars’. The title was a metaphor for the trio being under the influence of ‘musical supernovas which still emit light long after they have left their bodily forms’. The trio also invite us to sit under the stars and gaze up on clear night and consider our existence; in this time of Covid-19, this would be a poignant thing to do and especially so if you can listen to this album at the same time.
Trio Nadurra are regular performers at Moray Jazz Club, their own compositions and respect for jazz standards is always refreshing, exciting and fun. Do look at some of their performances on the club Blog.

It would be disingenuous to Trio Nadurra to go through the album and give a blow by blow critique of their interpretation. Instead I have focused on what are personal vibes that Trio Nadurra’s music has given me for each track.
Bill Evans’ composition ‘Re Person I knew’ is treated with utmost respect. It is perhaps a tonic for our times in 2020. Fraser’s cymbals fizz like a good bottle of Dom Perignon, Barry’s keyboard may not be a Steinway but he creates a warbling that Bill would have been proud of. Similarly with Evans’ ‘Very Early’. Wayne Shorter’s ‘Juju’ sees Fraser create some afrobeat rhythms (at the time of writing Tony Allen who created the afrobeat genre died in Paris, aged 79) with a real sense of purpose, it’s almost as though Fraser is saying ‘We are going on a musical journey and you are coming whether you like it or not’. Talking of journeys, Trio Nadurra’s take on Chic Corea’s 500 miles high should be played very much under the stars at full volume by astronauts in the international space station. After 500 miles comes Miles Davis’ ‘Nardis’ the Trio give us a reflective and rhythmically sound interpretation of this classic Davis piece. Or was it Bill Evans.? Joe Henderson’s ‘Black Narcissus’ is performed with exquisite intonation and timing. It is a well known melody that fits well with this trio’s instrumentation and especially so with Pete’s bassline. Similarly, Henderson’s ‘Inner Urge’ is treated to a tight knit Latin rhythm which is what Henderson always intended. Interesting as the piece was supposed to reflect his anger and frustration with living in New York. Trio Nadurra’s take on John Coltrane’s seminal ‘Naima’, is pure joy. Coltrane was very keen to break with jazz traditions and as an advocate of free jazz or improvisation, Trio Nadurra take this on to a different level. Drawing on the world music idiom, Fraser’s finale is of epic proportions, there are central asiatic tones(am I in a Shaolin monastery ?) overlain by earthy African rhythms. The penultimate track is Miles Davis’ seminal piece ‘Milestones’ that became a jazz standard and blueprint for ‘Kind of Blue’. Trio Nadurra again give a respectful interpretation in which Barry’s keyboard and Fraser’s drums create an ethereal quality with Pete’s double-bass tones acting as a elastic glue. Timeless. The finale is Chick Corea’s ‘Folk Song’ from the 1981 album ‘Three Quartets’. Barry has toned down the tempo to give this a reflective feel and a suggestive statement about the whole album which says,’Hey, we salute these giants of jazz, let’s pause and pay homage’. They certainly have in their own distinctive way to create an album that is in no way a replica of past masters but their own take as a respected trio in Scotland. Go and buy it, you won’t be disappointed.

Coming up  will be further reviews of jazz albums by some of the superb jazz artists who perform at our club. Watch this space!