Published Oct 18, 2018First and foremost: this is a jazz album, the way jazz was intended: "the sound of surprise." What we don't have here is a byzantine theoretical exercise, but rather, a pointed remark about how things can be complex yet part of everyday sound. This may seem like an oxymoron until you start thinking about the ferocious complexity of Fela Kuti or Sly Stone, but it's still jazz.
West has assembled a series of compositions that his quintet feel at home in. It's Brodie's house, but everyone is comfortable enough to be there and raid the fridge if need be. Even a ballad has that off-hand innocence like "Emerald Green" (and comes to Zappa's take on jazzism exemplified by "Twenty Small Cigars"), is as serious as they come, yet goes straight to the heart.
The band sound is in itself relaxed, and this in no small way framed beautifully by the phrasing of pianist Tania Gill, exemplified in her careful and concise handling of "Diamond Days."
West's playing is clear, melodic and tuneful. It's always really great to hear music being played with more than technique and it's just nonstop here. Underpinning all is one of the finest rhythm sections around; drummers Evan Cartwright and Nick Fraser establish equally distinct and strong musical character, stay out of each others way and provide bassist Josh Cole with space for independence and vitality. (Lorna)