(Stoney Lane Records)
Mark Pringle draws on some time spent in Paris for this album written for a 12-piece ensemble which is something of a jazz sinfonia, with a balanced four horns, four strings, and four-piece rhythm section.
Pringle’s piano opens the proceedings and it is clear from the start that this is not simple head-and-solos jazz writing but subtly through composed leaving space for the individual musicians to make their marks while very much buying into the moods and attitudes of the various pieces.
A track like Ode To The Trees is, for me, a brilliantly mature and restrained piece of music that sounds thoroughly original and big in scope while at its heart rooted in a fairly simple motif. I was reminded of the writing of Carla Bley in this regard.
Hasha’s Theme, inspired by Mark’s cat, features another compelling motif and groove, as well as an outstanding alto solo from Chris Young. The Writer has all the volatile mix of sensitivity and energy of the man for whom it is named: Ernest Hemingway. Again this is outstanding writing and arranging, the delicacy of picked and scraped strings interrupting the slow, building, slightly pompous even, upward line of the horns.
Pringle gets the chance to solo at length with his trio but here he is remarkably restrained, using the piano for comment and interjection for the most part. It’s all beautifully performed by this band of Birmingham-based musicians, and stands as a prime example of the creative expertise being generated by this city’s young jazz scene.
It’s not a long album at all, but packs a lot of thought-provoking and highly rewarding listening into its modest proportions.
I won’t go on too long, because there is a lot more about Mark Pringle and this album elsewhere on this blog (see below). I also heard Pringle’s trio – James Banner on bass and Euan Palmer on drums – playing some of the album’s music at The Red Lion, courtesy of Birmingham Jazz, earlier this month. It works just as well in this pared down format.
A really outstanding achievement from a musician with a very bright future indeed. Start following him now. And there’s a tasty new video clip from the album – you heard it first here:
- Read a Q&A with Mark here.
- Read my review of the 12-piece in performance at The Spotted Dog here.
- Mark is touring this music at present, mainly as a trio but with some 12-piece performances. The trio is playing the Symphony Hall Cafe Bar this evening at 5pm. More details here.
Categories: CD review