Recommended: Alex Bonney Quartet – “Halda Ema”


There’s a beguiling motion to Halda Ema.  Each piece on the latest from Alex Bonney gives the impression of ambivalence toward the subject of structure and form… things to be discarded without a second thought.  But a strong presence grows out of the frenzied crosscurrents of notes, and this in turn traces out a shape where, perhaps, none was intended.  It is the equivalent of a river, hurtling toward the ocean, and without the use of banks or shores to aid in direction.  “Pangolin Husbandry” and its counterpart “TRI-X Dreams” dance in space, and after a solemn introduction, “New Horizons” joins with them in a song of celebration.  The soulful “Awakening Song” has the same effect but at a much calmer pace.  And despite the sudden bursts of velocity, the sluggish roll-out of melody on “Mobiles” gives the sensation of the early onset of jet lag settling in just as the plane has maximized its speed for takeoff.

The interplay between cornetist Bonney and the bass clarinet of James Allsopp keeps the music light on its feet, even when they paint the melody with long, thick brushstrokes.  This effect, when conjoined with the darting motion of bassist Olie Brice and drummer Jeff Williams, creates a foundation where stark differentials between the melodic and rhythmic development can do nothing to sever the ties that bind them together in the same oddly disjointed flow.  And through all of this is a sound that recalls music of the past as much as present, of the age of jazz when inside-out music first took hold of the scene, and where traditional elements and visionary aspirations found a home in the same form of expressionism.

Your album personnel:  Alex Bonney (cornet), James Allsopp (bass clarinet), Olie Brice (bass) and Jeff Williams (drums).

Released by the Loop Collective.

Listen to more of the album at the label’s Bandcamp page.

Music from London.

Available at:  Bandcamp