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Saturday, 16 December 2017 20:17

Transitions – Julian Costello Quartet

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An excellent album, instantly likeable and recorded to perfection.

Transitions is slick, very slick!

The playing and arrangements are so refined that you feel this group have been playing these pieces forever.  The recording balance is spot on and the timing feels like this album was recorded in one straight session, so seamlessly do the tracks transition from one to the next (although “transitions” could equally apply to the separate movements within each track).

The Julian Costello Quartet are: Julian Costello (tenor and soprano saxophones), Maciek Pysz (electric and classical guitars), Yuri Goloublev (double bass) and Adam Teixeira (drums and percussion). 

Waves opens the album with a slow tenor solo that gradually introduces the other players; a catchy riff unfolds and after a couple of feints, the tempo asserts and music starts to swing. Pysz solos freely on electric guitar, briefly adopts the riff before the sax reprises and the piece then melds into… 

Ducks features Costello freestyling on tenor but never venturing too far from the underlying theme.

Costello keeps Corners to himself, with soprano sax lead overdubbing multiple tenors, giving the effect of chordal support – a nice arrangement!

In A Manic Episode, tenor sax introduces a slightly menacing riff; electric guitar and double bass adopt this riff allowing Costello to soar above on soprano, all the while drums are flooding energy in an understated manner.  The band quieten to allow Pysz’s classical guitar to solo over Goloublev’s bass counterpointing. Teixeira returns to lends tympanic drive, while Costello’s soprano briefly reprises before the piece slips into… 

True to its name, Tongue In Cheek starts off as a playful stop-start piece before settling into a delightful rhythmic latin dance piece with soprano and electric guitar alternating the lead. This slows down at the end to segue neatly into …

Patience is a slow, chilled piece with alternating electric guitar and soprano over brushed drums and structured bass (occasionally bowed to great effect). An unaccompanied bass solo transitions between this track and…

Earworm is more upbeat, featuring light and breezy soprano and laid back guitar.

In Buraki/Ziemniaki (trans. beetroot / potatoes) the bass opens the melody, which is reflected by tenor before freestyling. Halfway through, the piece morphs distinctly, becoming tersely punctuated; Pysz solos on electric.

Mirage (Intro) is a soft classical guitar solo in isolation from the other players (some electric in background for mood). By contrast, Mirage moves the pace up a gear and sets guitar and soprano in unison to define the recurring riff, Arabic in feel.

Panettone’s repeating guitar chord is background to the forefront bass line, with military style marching drums accompanying throughout. Tenor drops in and out to lay another level over the top.

Goloublev’s bass lays down a syncopated rhythm to open Walking Through The Jungle.  Tenor and electric guitar alternate the lead. Ends with a brief and rare example of Teixeira going to town on his kit.

Corners Reprise is a short, quiet reflection of the earlier multi-sax piece, this time with the whole band.

The interplay of the individual players is fabulous. Costello’s sound dominates when playing, especially when on soprano (almost ethereal) but he balances this by giving Pysz equal opportunity to solo.  Pysz’s own sound is clean and laid back, both when soloing or supporting.  Goloublev’s bass is solidly structural when in support; clean and well defined when taking lead. Teixeira’s drums are consistently played with a light hand, that understates the element he brings to the whole.  And collectively, they make it sound so easy! 

The end product is a very listenable album executed to perfection. 

This is cool jazz!


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