CD review: Kairos 4tet

everythingEverything We Hold
(Naim naimcd191)

Saxophonist Adam Waldmann has always written strongly melodic tunes that have suggested a vocal line, and in fact he and his MOBO Best Jazz Act-winning band have occasionally incorporated vocals into their music before. But it’s much more extensive on this third release, with former guest vocalist Emilia Martensson joined by Irish folk/blues singer Marc O’Reilly and by soul singer Omar.

Everything We Hold is filled with these solid melodies and compelling hooks, the playing is exemplary, and the whole thing has a beauty and accessibility which should bring it a wide audience.

Drummer Jon Scott and double bassist Jasper Hoiby build some great grooves, and Waldman’s lovely saxophone sound and pianist Ivo Neame’s rich harmonies do the rest. Of course Neame and Hoiby are two thirds of Phronesis and although in this band they keep some of the trio’s rhythmic drive in check, they still lock in so beautifully with complementary harmonies and interlocking structures. Scott is a highly musical drummer, and is quite far back in the mix, making his contributions very much integrated into the overall sound.

An instrumental suite called The 99 weaves through the album, with the vocal tracks spread out along the way. The lyrics are by Adam’s friend, the actor Rupert Friend and there are some stylish orchestrations by Jules Buckley. There are also tunes dedicated by Waldmann to the others in the 4tet. J-Ho From The Block – for Jasper Hoiby – is a particular joy, with its minimalist, looping soprano saxophone line and J-Ho doing what he does best – playing busily and with great rhythmic push and astonishing intonation.

Waldmann, as I have said before, is a modest leader, preferring to put the music as a whole before any personal grandstanding. This disc feels like his finest achievement so far, and one which suggests a most promising future direction: music that breaks out of the jazz “ghetto” without compromising itself in any way, and vocals in a jazz setting that sound a long way from what we conventionally think jazz singing will sound like.

Highly recommended. And here is a taste…



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