When Consonance by the Firebird Quartet, from the North of England, was released last year, it escaped my net. But I was resolute in the knowledge that such an album had to be written about; it has verve, striking compositions and excellent jazz melodies.
The band members not only play, but have also composed four of the nine pieces on the album; the title track, Consonance, and Dodge the Cobra were composed by drummer Tim Carter, whilst Lights andThe Dunes were written by pianist Martin Longhawn.
This is indeed a piece of consonance, something to enjoy and delight in. When I recently asked Ian Chalk, the band’s trumpet player and Director of York Jazz Initiative, to tell me a bit more on the album’s structure, he was especially keen to highlight that the album was recorded in one room, with the band all playing together. "It's recorded 'as live’, no overdubs," he revealed. "It's a true representation of what we sound like live which is something we really wanted the album to be. The band as captured in that moment. We also made a point of not over-rehearsing the material to try and retain spontaneity. Some of the best moments are as a result of glances and nods rather than detailed musical arrangements. We think the result has a lot more sparkle and energy than if each part was recorded separately then mixed together and over-polished”.
This spontaneity is alive and well on Consonance itself, and covers such as Afro Blue (Santamaria) and When It Rains (Mehldau) are performed with a freshness and new approach.
On The Seductress (Wynton Marsalis), Chalk’s trumpet playing is singular, making the track even more poignant.
Chalk’s very modest approach to composition on this album means that space was given to the other band members. On Consonance, it is clear that they have developed a first class repertoire, whether self-penned or not.
On Blue Seven (Rollins), each member of the band excels in their own smooth solo playing. Absolutely delicious.
A fine album.
Personnel: Ian Chalk - Trumpet; Martin Longhawn - Piano; Tim Carter - Drums; John Marley - Bass.
Available as a CD or Download here.