trio in which saxophonist Stan Sulzmann and vibes player Jim Hart were joined by Gwilym Simcock, but the latter’s departure has seen the group reconfigured in quartet format, with another rising star of jazz piano, Kit Downes, and drummer Tim Giles. The musical personalities of the newcomers have opened up new possibilities for the group’s music, and they are explored to absorbing effect here. Sulzmann’s writing
dominated Neon’s previous trio recording, but all except Giles contribute compositions to the ten originals this time round. Sulzmann brings four decades of refined experience to his playing, and draws additional stimulus from the contributions of the three younger musicians. Each player provides ample invention, subtlety and energy, but it is the overall effect of their ensemble interaction and response that is the real key to the band’s success. (Kenny Mathieson)
WORLD SOUAD MASSI Ô Houria (Liberty) (Wrasse Records) ●●●●●
AMBIENT BRIAN ENO Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Warp Records) ●●●●●
Like his cohort David Bowie, Eno knows a good collaborator when he sees one. His 70s solo albums are littered with names such as Robert Fripp, Phil Collins, Robert Wyatt and Harold Budd. For this, his first solo album since 2006’s Another Day On Earth (admittedly, he’s been busy with Coldplay U2, and David Byrne albums) he recruits Leo Abrahams (young guitarist and co-writer to Ed Harcourt, Imogen Heap and other big hitters) and Jon Hopkins (young producer and behind- the-scenes guru to Coldplay, David Holmes and more) to shape things up. It’s a collaboration that works, and the results will likely be soundtracking most of BBC4’s 2011 output.
While some of these 15 tracks occupy familiar Eno territory – ‘Complex Heaven’
could be an outtake from Apollo, all reverb- drenched piano and trademark Yamaha DX7 tones, while ‘Emerald and Stone’ is classic 70s ambient Eno – some (‘Calcium Needles’, ‘Slow Ice, Old Moon’) don’t really progress beyond short sketches of sound design. More substantial are tracks applying treatments to collaborators’ raw material. ‘Horse’ wades right into Drukqs-era Aphex Twin territory, with a mess of abrasive sliced-and-diced guitar and a bassline lifted straight from his own ‘In Dark Trees’ from 1975, while ‘2 Forms of Anger’ sounds like nothing else he, or anyone else, has done, with something resembling dubstep giving way to guitars gatecrashing from a Big Black record.
These inventive tracks alongside ambient pieces might lack some unity, but combine to give this collection the sound of a release on Warp, a label whose early roster could double for an Eno fan convention. It feels like a good fit and it’s a good listen. (Hamish Brown)
guitar chops, gambolling melodies and wry narratives make I’m A Dancer worth taking home. (Nicola Meighan) JAZZ DAVID LIEBMAN TRIO Lieb Plays The Blues À La Trane (Daybreak/Challenge) ●●●●●
Saxophonist David Liebman has never hidden his debt to the example of John
Coltrane, but is by no means just a Coltrane clone, and this scintillating live set finds him exploring the legacy in his own signature style on both tenor and soprano saxophones (along with Steve Lacy, Coltrane was pre- eminent in establishing the latter horn as a major vehicle in post- bop jazz). The idea for the disc arose from an impromptu change in the repertoire for a planned gig in Belgium.
The Coltrane’ closes the set, and these covers bracket three of Coltrane’s own tunes, ‘Up Against The Wall’, ‘Mr P. C.’ and ‘Village Blues’. Classic material given a fresh and creative dusting down in hugely enjoyable style. (Kenny Mathieson) JAZZ NEON QUARTET Catch Me (Edition Records) ●●●●●
Neon began life as a
If people were not so hung up on language Souad Massi, who sings in Arabic, French and English would be a superstar. From ‘Everything Remains To Be Done’, a stunning duo with Francis Cabrel with Speed Caravan’s Mehdi Habbad cracking out an oud solo guitar rock style, to the winsome Nacera with its lovely guitar touches, Massi moves agilely
The saxophonist is joined by bassist Marius Beets and drummer Eric Ineke on five blues tunes by or associated with Coltrane, although the first, ‘All Blues’, is better known as a Miles Davis classic. Ellington’s ‘Take
ALSO RELEASED Belvedere Mountain Express Cauldstane Slap (Pigeonhouse) ●●●●● Spacey electronic effects with a Gallic accordion twist. Largely directionless and overlong. Yusuf Azak Turn on the Long Wire (Song, by Toad) ●●●●● On the one hand: lush, beautiful acoustic guitar playing. On the other: annoying breathy vocals, with overdone harmonies that fail to bolster them. Wooden Wand Death Seat (Young God) ●●●●● Possessed of a dry, brooding wit and a Southern drawl, Wooden Wand makes light work of half this album. The other half, unfortunately, does drag a little. Cowboy Junkies Renmin Park (Proper) ●●●●● A collection of interesting tracks built on Chinese neighbourhood sound samples, from the Canadian alt-country/ rockers. Twin Shadow Forget (4AD) ●●●●● Co-produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, this synthy- electro offering from Brooklyn is more emotive that most other entries in the genre, but commits the mistake of aping the 80s template; not building on it enough. The Plimptons 00s Nostalgia (self-released) ●●●●● Brash Glaswegian indie-ska-punk-pop. It’ll appeal to fans and 15-year-olds, but few others.(Niki Boyle)
from rock to folk tinged love song with aplomb. While the feel is Algerian-French, Massi’s eclectic, always soulful taste and her appealing voice guarantees plenty of emotional variety for this simply beautiful album. (Jan Fairley) 4–18 Nov 2010 THE LIST 61