Dec 4 2014
Edentide is an album of big pronouncements, of serious drama, of epic story arcs. Songs rise up like empires and expand into new territories. The music of trumpeter Noel Langley radiates a massive presence, yet goes about mesmerizing with an undeniable elegance. Striking passages flash by, gone in a moment but memorable for a tiny eternity. But when you turn 50 years of age and have spent a career in the big bands of the UK jazz elite, this is the kind of debut album you release. Everything is Big, because you’ve spent a long time building slowly up to it.
A low drone, a rustle of brushes, the gentle murmur of harp all open the album on “For the Uncommon Man,” but it isn’t long before a huge leap up to huge statements by the brass instruments elevates the tension up a notch or three. Even when it levels off, the prolonged effect of that leap lasts for the remainder of the tune.
The urgent tempo of “Sven’s Island” grows into a mild frenzy before suddenly dropping off into a peacefully drifting outro. By itself, it’s a striking transformation, but in the way that it creates a delightful transition into the tuneful “Glass” illustrates how Langley’s winning formula maximizes the dramatic effect.
That continues with “On Haast Beach,” which opens with some exoticism and a swaying cadence that eventually breaks into a gallop. Piano rides it like a champ. “Minami,” too, which has a gentler disposition, comes out with the big tones.
A couple shorter pieces, “The Turning House” and “Four For One,” serve as emotional set pieces that invoke both a scenic backdrop for the compositions that precede and follow them, as well as adding textural development to an album that already paints with wide, sweeping strokes and bold colors.
Even the relatively understated title-track “Edentide,” which closes the album out with a slow burn instead of a final crash, emits an evocative tone that speaks to substance and depth, just in a quieter voice. Langley develops some modal action for the finale, and the requisite patience that comes from that approach is a nice clinching moment for an album more likely to leave one breathless.
Your album personnel: Noel Langley (trumpet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, mellophone, handclaps, kitchen utensils), Ruth Wall (concert harp, bray harp, Chinese wire harp), Alcyona Mick (piano), Keith Fairbairn (glockenspiel, vibraphone, marimba, waterphone, zabumba, tamborim, shakers, handclaps), Zoltan Dekany (double bass), Asaf Sirkis (drums, udu), Kenny Dickenson (Hammond organ, piano, rhythm programming, Mustang P51) and guests: Laurence Cottle (bass guitar) and The Stealth Horns w/Kate Robertson (flute, piccolo), Phil Todd (flute, alto flute, bass flute, tubax), Duncan Lamont Jr. (flute, alto flute), Ben Castle (clarinet, bass clarinet, flute), Yazz Ahmed (trumpet, flugelhorn), Mike Lovatt (trumpet, flugelhorn), Dave Lee (French horn), Ashley Slater (trombone, bass trombone), Trevor Mires (trombone) and Oren Marshall (tuba).
Released on Suntara Records.
Jazz from the UK scene.