This live recording from last year’s London Jazz Festival gig at the Pizza Express opens with Janisch’s bass and in his hands alone there is that thoroughly modern yet absolutely classic meeting of spontaneous melody and rhythm that is the intoxicating essence of jazz.
The rest of the band kicks in – fellow leader Ortiz on piano, Rudy Royston on drums, Greg Osby on alto and Raynald Colom on trumpet – and Janisch’s perfectly-titled Precisely Now becomes a 14-minute rollercoaster ride with Royston and Colom in explosive mood and Osby in a gentler though equally intense place.
In fact this is a hallmark of the CD as a whole – the energy levels of a Janisch band are always that little bit higher, the players pushed to play intensely. If you’re on the front row in the club it might feel a bit like a physical assault, albeit an incredibly eloquent one.
Jitterbug Waltz features some great long-distance playing from Osby, while Ortiz’s Orbiting gives him a chance to stretch out with his big, open-handed Cuban angle on the music. Monk’s Ask Me Now and another Ortiz original complete the programme.
Overall the album has the magical feel of a quickly assembled all-star Blue Note session from the 1960s, except that the harmonies and rhythms are more contemporary and the atmosphere is club-steamy.