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Vision

Artist: Moss Project

Date of Release: 13/11/2009

Catalogue no: APS01

Label: Apsara

Price: £9.15

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

 

Pneuma

9.59

2

 

Rite

8.20

3

 

Free Change

12.22

4

 

Cantemus

3.46

5

 

Epic

10.00

6

 

Obstinato

7.26

7

 

Prelude, Fugue and Improvisation

14.43

 

 

 

 

“Strong writing and ensemble sound... a real achievement!” Bill Bruford

"There’s a freshness, a spaciousness to this band that is very attractive... The Moss Project will appeal to a range of audiences, from proggy Porcupine Tree to Metheny acolytes, from Radiohead, even to Joe Pass fans." Jazzwise (Andy Robson)

"Vision is a fascinating and hypnotically satisfying album which demands repeated plays" All About Jazz

"A record of endless fascination and immediate accessibility" Manchester Evening News

“As much Bad Plus as Stravinsky, in equal measures Metheny, Massive Attack, Bach and Radiohead” Lancashire Evening Post

The Moss Project play contemporary jazz – but possibly not like any jazz you’ve heard before. The Manchester band’s debut album, ‘Vision’, is an intense and emotional musical experience and testament to bandleader Moss Freed’s inspirational and eclectic range of influences. While studying composition and performance at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Moss formed the group to provide a platform for innovative and exciting new music.

Moss Freed - Guitar
Joe Jones - Violin
Myke Wilson - Drums
Rob Turner - Drums/Percussion
Kenji Fenton - Saxophones
Gavin Barras - Basses
Ed Barnwell - Keyboards

 

Reviews

 

10/01/0010 Boomkat

Mancunian guitarist Moss Freed is at the helm of progressive jazz ensemble The Moss Project. This sextet are an inventive and musically resourceful bunch, melding technically adept instrumentation from violin, sax, keyboards, bass and two drummers, all with Freed's slick, highly accomplished guitar leading the assault. The band cite influences as diverse as Stravinsky, The Bad Plus, Pat Metheny and Massive Attack. You probably wouldn't be too out of line if you started mentioning Weather Report, Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin and the like as well. Vision is impressive and often very beautiful (the winding lyricism of 'Epic' is especially appealing) but it does occasionally lean towards the nerdier, more chops-centric end of the jazz spectrum - though surely that's not such a bad thing.

 

01/07/0009 Jazzwise

In days of yore, Freed may have been expected to ‘pay his dues’ before releasing a debut release, but the Edinburgh and Berklee alumnus is straight in with this snapshot of his composing and guitar skills. Yes, there are longueurs but there’s a freshness, a spaciousness to this band and Freed’s essentially lyrical writing, that is very attractive. Freed himself plays knotty, terse guitar which can suddenly unfurl into Frisell-like lines, but here he affords space aplenty to Fenton’s sweet and understated saxophone which Jones’ violin adds welcome colour to the likes of ‘Free Change’.

It’s easy to nit-pick: some of the soloing is nascent, shall we say, but the great thing is no-one tries too hard, no bandwagons are jumped on, but a good time is had is had by all within a relaxed ensemble set-up where the composition and overall sound is bigger than any individual. The Moss Project will appeal to a range of audiences, from proggy Porcupine Tree to Metheny acolytes, from Radiohead, even to Joe Pass fans. If you can’t write a piece called ‘Prelude, Fugue and Improvisation’ when you’re off on your big adventure, when can you?

By Andy Robson

 

07/03/0009 All About Jazz

Unclassifiable is perhaps the most appropriate term to describe the debut album Vision, by guitarist and Berklee alumnus Moss Freed and his sextet, Moss Project. Formed in late 2007, this group—hailing from Manchester, England—has been gigging widely around the world; and it shows. For a first album, this is a more than competent start. The compositions all show imagination, originality and vitality. Comparisons with more established groups, particularly the later Pat Metheny bands or even a toned-down Mahavishnu Orchestra, are tempting but ultimately futile when acknowledging that Moss Project actually doesn't sound quite like anything else.
One particularly attractive feature of this album is that the two lead string instruments are employed with a minimum of electronic effects, and in the case of the violin, no perceivable studio enhancements. So there is an immediate sense of purity of tone. Another admirable aspect is that there is no excessive soloing; merely restrained, contextually apt improvised statements which make redundant the oft quoted "try taking the saxophone out of your mouth" advice that Miles Davis reportedly gave John Coltrane.

"Pneuma" sets the tone for the whole album. There is a delicately executed balance of instrumentation with violin, guitar, saxophone and piano sharing melodic duties, and bass and drums providing a solid backdrop. On this first track, Freed amply demonstrates his soloing abilities, but nowhere does he or the other soloists overwhelm the proceedings. "Rite" is punchier than the opener, but again, as with everything here, there is sensitivity. Ed Barnwell's delicate Rhodes solo is an object lesson in non-clichéd and articulate invention.

The lengthier "Free Change" nods in the direction of guitarist John McLaughlin's The Heart of Things (Verve, 1997) but only vaguely, since the music remains distinctively original throughout. The appropriately titled "Epic" is a ten-minute pastoral discourse between violin, soprano sax, acoustic piano, acoustic bass and guitar, with urgent drums overlaid but not dominating. The punningly titled "Obstinato" opens with half a minute of chanting dissolving rapidly into an engaging melody played by violin and guitar, and joined by soprano sax. Here, as with every track, themes are subtly explored and repeated with solos intertwining, neither seeming to take precedence.

The final contemplative track, "Prelude, Fugue and Improvisation," which, at nearly 15 minutes, is also the lengthiest, epitomizes the strength of this band. That strength can be summarized simply as tastefully restrained, yet exciting. There is space here, something which many other musicians seem to ignore, to their cost. The track gradually builds the tension, and culminates with a triumphant ensemble crescendo of release.

Vision is a fascinating and hypnotically satisfying album which demands repeated plays.

By Roger Farbey

 

06/03/0009 Manchester Evening News

****

VISION is the only word for music of this much creativity, boldness and expansiveness.

Guitarist Moss Freed leads his group like an orchestra, so that the emphasis is on sophisticated shifting textures rather than theme-and-solo.

The combination of guitar (Freed himself) and violin (Joe Jones) hasn’t been used to such good effect since the halcyon days of Mahavishnu Orchestra, though Freed is more stately than John McLaughlin, and less egotistic.

He has a strong melodic sense – evident on tunes like Free Change or the smouldering Epic – and just the right balance is struck between formal scoring and improvisation.

Vital Manchester players like Kenji Fenton on sax and Ed Barnwell on keys are absolutely on the case, and the mighty Myke Wilson on drums is expert at synching tension and release.

A record of endless fascination and immediate accessibility.

By Al Brownlee

 

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