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Tuesday, 04 July 2017 02:42

Andrew McCormack - Graviton

Written by  AJ Dehany
    Authors Ranking: Authors Ranking
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Rising pianist gets cosmic with a stellar ensemble.

British-born pianist and composer Andrew McCormack takes a leap into a cosmic space on new album Graviton, expanding his more familiar piano trio format with elements of spiritual jazz and space rock that bear a comparison to Chick Corea’s Return to Forever but with a prog-like rhythmic restlessness.

Phronesis drummer Anton Eger is at his most animated, busy but with a punchy drum sound underpinning the album’s layered and rich but tight production. With bass player Robin Mullarkey and tenor sax and clarinets from Shabaka Hutchings, the group rides an almost continuous ostinato of tightly wound unison figures driving openers Breathe and Graviton. Shabaka Hutchings follows the group discipline with only occasional glimpses of the visceral riffing-as-soloing we experience with the Sons of Kemet and with psychedelic effect and freedom in The Comet Is Coming. McCormack’s detailed piano arpeggiations carry the tunes along with only rare moments of soloing.

Much of the atmosphere and breathing space comes through from the layered, almost choral vocal arrangements, with mostly wordless vocals throughout from ESKA. She contributes lyrics variously, on Escape Velocity imploring us to “Break out!” as if we could bend that eponymous particle the graviton itself to our will and escape the pull of the earth and its cares.

It might have been precision engineered to appeal to Gilles Peterson, whose DJing has for decades specialized in a fusion of tastefully spacey-spiritual jazz fusion. McCormack’s compositions, arrangements and production are delicately integrated, sometimes stretching out to the solar system, and sometimes, on more vocally-based moments like Andromeda and Fellowship, pausing to serenely enjoy the view. More a blast-off round the nearer satellites than an interstellar supernova, the album has a pleasing completeness to its cool cosmic odyssey. 

 

Personnel:

Andrew McCormack - piano, keyboard, glockenspiel

ESKA - vocals

Shabaka Hutchings - tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet

Robin Malarkey - electric bass

Anton Eger - drums

 

Record Label: Jazz Village

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