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Rejoicing Blues

Artist: Kairos Ensemble

Date of Release: 01/11/2013

Catalogue no:

Label: Mulberry Tree Music

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

listen

Curiosity

5.57

2

listen

African Skies

6.02

3

listen

Rejoicing Blues

6.08

4

listen

Where the deep blue sea meets the azure sky

3.49

5

listen

Lost Property

5.26

6

listen

Laval

4.46

7

listen

Spider

5.34

8

listen

Underground (For the Saints)

6.21

9

listen

First Signs

5.15

10

listen

In Step

4.01

11

listen

Mr Tom

3.31

12

listen

Dad's Happygail

3.57

13

listen

Wedding Song

4.37

14

listen

The Water is Wide

6.34

 

 

 

 

Brimming with inventive and soulful original compositions, Kairos Ensemble's latest instrumental release features the core quartet and documents tunes the band often play live but until now, have never recorded. The album also closes with an evocative rendition of the traditional folk song, The Water is Wide.

 

Reviews

 

29/04/2014 Lins Honeyman, Cross Rhythms

Following up their acclaimed 2010 'Passion Suite' album was never going to be an easy task but Hertfordshire-based jazz quartet the Kairos Ensemble have undoubtedly succeeded with a captivating release that draws upon the group's live but previously unrecorded repertoire from the last decade. Wholly instrumental and unadorned by guest artists, this album sees the foursome in their natural habitat and gives each member a chance to evidence their own virtuosity as well as showcasing their supreme collective harmony. For instance, Dan Foster (sax) and Peter James (keyboards) riff off each other intuitively in the rolling homage to pianist Abdullah Ibrahim "African Skies" whilst drummer Tom Hooper takes centre stage in the appropriately-titled "Mr Tom". Elsewhere, versatile tuba player Richard Fox takes on the role of the traditional double bass player with aplomb before pulling off some stunning and hilarious soloing during "In Step" and proving his worth as a writer - like his colleagues Foster and James - in the joyful "Dad's Happygail". Impressively, a wide range of styles are on show here from the Cuban-tinged opener "Curiosity" to a reading of the traditional folk tune "The Water Is Wide" which, together with the title track's bebop-cum-classical leanings and the smooth jazz of the tender "First Signs", further signal this band's inherent adaptability. Thought out subject matters undergird the likes of the poignant "Lost Property" - an ode to Fox's late brother - and the band reference topics such as religious persecution in "Underground (For The Saints)" and the joy of walking with God in the aforementioned "In Step" to add meat to the bone of this already brilliant and unmissable release.

 

07/01/2014 Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz

Kairos Ensemble (not to be confused with another UK four piece, Kairos 4tet) came together in 2001. Rejoicing Blues is the ensemble's fifth album and features tunes from the band's live sets that have not previously been recorded. There is, indeed, much here that is worth rejoicing.

The ensemble features saxophonist Dan Foster, pianist Peter James and drummer Tom Hooper. In a slightly-out-of-leftfield move the Kairos Ensemble's bottom end rhythm duties are handled not by the traditional double bass, but by Richard Fox's probably even more traditional tuba. Whether this choice of instrument was a musical decision or a more pragmatic one is unclear, but the end result is a constant joy. Fox's sense of rhythm is spot-on and he has the ability to shift between the tuba's fruitier tones and much softer, more romantic sounds. On occasion he coaxes more than passable double bass and bass guitar impressions from the instrument as well, enriching the music with this variety of tones and colors.

With one exception, the traditional folk tune "The Water Is Wide," the music on Rejoicing Blues is written by James, Fox or Foster. Hooper receives no composer credit, but Foster's funky "Mr Tom" is dedicated to the drummer and gives him plenty of space to stretch out. Much of the music is underpinned by a strong spiritual foundation—particularly apparent in "Underground (For The Saints)" and "The Water Is Wide."

Three tunes have a somewhat reflective and melancholy air. "The Water Is Wide" is dedicated to Foster's late mother, Joan, and showcases his lyrical alto playing. Fox's "Lost Property"—a lament for his brother Graham—is a beautiful number which features Foster's tenor and a languid, emotive tuba solo from Fox. The band describes James' "Underground (For The Saints)" as a prayer for those suffering religious persecution. It's a prayer with a very contemporary sound, thanks to James' keyboards and the insistent, hand-clapped and foot-stamped, beat.

The rest of the tunes share a more upbeat and celebratory mood—along with some absolutely irresistible dance grooves. Fox's "Curiosity" and James' "African Skies" wear their inspirations openly—and why not, when those inspirations are Astor Piazzolla and Abdullah Ibrahim? The inspiration behind the funky "Spider" is less easy to spot—maybe James, the composer, is an arachnophile? "In Step," say the band, celebrates the "joy of walking in step with the Spirit of God." It also seems to be marvellously in step with the spirit and slinky groove of Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes"—there's a brief but enjoyable tuba and drum duet thrown in for good measure.

Whatever the inspirations may have been, the results are a delight. A collection of beautifully-played, inventive and vibrant tunes, Rejoicing Blues is itself an inspiration.


 

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