Venture down a dark, city centre back street in Liverpool on certain nights and you may hear the distant sound of a singing, high trumpet emanating from some low lit local bar or pub: invariably this will be the sound of Martin Smith and his group.
For numerous years the improvising trumpeter and now composer has been one of the most respected jazz musicians in the area and the north west; having worked closely with the members of his group, The Weave for some considerable time anyway – and been a part of other bands such as the Wizards of Twiddly and the John Martyn tribute project Solid Air Band – Smith has definitely released a record fitting of his musical talents.
The artists accompanying him on The Weave are his usual collaborators: Anthony Peers (Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Vocals); Rob Stringer (Piano, Fender Rhodes, Vocals); Hugo Harrison (Double Bass); Anthony Ormesher (Guitar); Tilo Pirnbaum (Drum, Percussion) and Stuart Hardcastle (Percussion). All are regulars in the Liverpool jazz community and this extended line up (as opposed merely to the ubiquitous quartet form) allows for elegant arrangement and textural touches. The recording has great clarity yet is not heavily produced, perhaps preferring to reflect a live, dry acoustic sound rather than the aesthetics of Candid or ECM releases.
Having listened to the record in its entirety several times, the material seems to honestly reflect the influences of the musician involved; there is no overriding attempted to be inaccessible or overtly challenge listeners with “difficult” music: instead it is a collection of well-penned tracks – or “tunes” in jazz parlance – which examine the sub-genres of funeral match style Dixieland to frenetically paced Bop. However this is not merely a series of pastiches: The Weave use a variety of stylistic influences as a starting point for consistently inventive creativity. One of the standout numbers has to be its opener, ‘Thou Spak A Mouthful’ which drives between a deep funk piano and bass groove supporting spiky, offbeat trumpet riffs. Alongside this, the ballad ‘Never Better’ nicely balances the groups’ ability to pare down their extrovert personalities to focus on melody whilst the upbeat ‘Hollie Dancer’ sees Weave break off into several different duo solos after the main opening theme or head. Perhaps this writer’s favourite is the oddly titled ‘Cold, Wet and Sockless’ which features the impossibly driving brush work of Tilo Pirnbaum, that sits beneath a twisting, echoing two part ‘weaved’ trumpet melody: guitarist Anthony Ormesher provides an excellently relaxed solo that sits well upon the vigorous double time, efforts of the rhythm section.
A fantastic debut disc with a particularly fetching pink design on the cover, The Weave is well worth catching live especially considering that their record release gig is happening soon in Merseyside. That will be taking place on Tuesday 12th February at Parr Street Studios, 33-45 Parr Street, Liverpool from 8.30pm.
More information about the band can be found at: http://theweavemusic.com/
Mark Jones (MA)
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