(Loop Records Loop1015)
Agile is the first track and agile is the band – it’s filled with familiar names and sounds, including Tomas Challenger on tenor saxophone, Ivo Neame on piano and Tim Giles on drums. Then there is vocalist Brigitte Bereha, guitarist Rob Updegraff and the leader, composer of all the music and double bassist Dave Manington.
Neame also plays accordion, and Bereha often contributes wordlessly, so hers and Challenger’s lines can intertwine on that opener.
There is a strong sense that the band has been formed on the strength of the individual personalities so there is no point in limiting them within a lot of tightly composed material. Manington provides pretty open themes and loose harmonic structures so that all the band can explore them relatively freely. The results are strong and effective.
The title track is proving a favourite on my CD player, with Manington and Giles with brushes providing a buoyant cushion for Challenger and Bereha to weave above, while Neame and Updegraff very discretely fill in around them. The saxophonist’s and bassist’s solos are particularly strong here. And, of course, Neame is usually interesting.
For all his gentle touch, Manington has still managed to give the album a very definite sound and character which is not only his own but also indicative of the general Loop Collective ethos. Ultimately it hasn’t grabbed me quite as strongly as some of the other new music around at the moment, but I suspect its appeal will grow with time and familiarity.
Categories: CD review