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End of the Telegraph Wires

Artist: ZOO

Date of Release: 09/02/2009

Catalogue no: 1564

Label: Red Admiral Records LLP

Price: £11.99

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

listen

Button by button

5.38

2

listen

Beyond

6.41

3

listen

Open air

4.01

4

listen

Mutual

4.24

5

listen

Big red bus

9.44

6

listen

I fell through a hole to you

4.40

7

listen

Like a knife

6.05

8

listen

These things happen

4.37

9

listen

I didn't mean to fall in love with you

3.07

10

listen

Energy

6.03

11

listen

Leave it all behind

6.17

12

listen

Kill a man today

6.31

13

listen

Disguise

5.10

14

listen

Changes

6.07

 

 

 

 

‘End of the Telegraph Wires’ sees ZOO stretching out their nu-century jazz-fusion sound with the addition of John Sanderson(tenor/soprano sax, flute, bass clarinet)and Ian Beestin (drums, percussion) along with regular collaborators David Ives (flute/EWI), Ben Lee (trumpet) and Michael Aggio (clarinet). The album, which features 14 new original tracks, will be available worldwide on i-tunes, seven digital, emusic and other download sites, or to order from www.zoo-music.co.uk and www.redadmiralrecords.com and www.jazzcds.co.uk

 

Reviews

 

16/08/2009 The Jazz Mann

Review of ‘End of the telegraph wires’ by ZOO
“A distinctive album that fuses subtly jazzy arrangements to interesting song based material”

This review copy was kindly given to me by the members of Zoo following their recent appearance at the 2009 Lichfield Real Ale, Jazz and Blues Festival. Zoo’s performance is reviewed as part of our feature covering the Saturday of the festival.
“End Of The Telegraph Wires” was recorded in 2008 when Zoo consisted of the multi instrumentalist trio of Reg and Karen Clegg plus Paul Biggins. Since then the group has expanded to a quintet with the addition of saxophonist John Sanderson and drummer Ian Beestin who both feature as guests on this album.
Zoo are based in Derbyshire where this album was recorded but their well crafted music has earned them a national reputation. Essentially they are a song based band centred around the lead vocals of Karen Clegg. They use a lot of jazz chords in their arrangements and in Sanderson now have a genuine jazz soloist. Their music has been described as “nu jazz fusion” but has a good deal more substance than that epithet, with it’s implied accusation of blandness might suggest. Biggins’ thank yous refer to “Don and Walt” which I take to be the celebrated Messrs. Fagen and Becker of Steely Dan. Certainly the combination of smooth-ish music and barbed lyrics is a Steely Dan trademark and Zoo offer something of the kind here without ever sounding remotely like their heroes.
This fourteen song collection features the song writing talents of the core trio either solo or in various combinations. Biggins’ “Button By Button” opens proceedings, teaming pounding electronic rhythms with Sanderson’s squiggling tenor sax on this tale of undercover crime and surveillance. The wistful “Beyond”, also by Biggins is one of his many “escaping from reality” songs. Instrumentally the piece features Karen’s piano solo and guest David Ives’ flute above a percussive backdrop led by Beestin’s subtle grooves.
Husband and wife team Reg and Karen Clegg wrote the unsettling “Open Air” which gains much of it’s atmosphere from the eerie combination of Karen’s melodica and Ives’ ewi (electronic wind instrument). Biggins’ “Mutual”, a “relationship in crisis” song continues the uneasy atmosphere with Ives’ flute now to the fore, dovetailing with Karen’s recorder.
At nine minutes plus“Big Red Bus” is one of the album’s stand out cuts. A collaboration between the core trio the song featured in their set at Lichfield, announced as “the story of someone’s life”. With it’s twin towers references it’s maybe more than that. The instrumentalists get the chance to stretch out here. Guest trumpeter Ben Lee broods in Milesian fashion shadowed by Biggins’ electric piano and Sanderson’s snaking soprano sax.
Reg Clegg’s “I Fell Through a Hole To You” tells the story of a stale relationship. Sweetly sung by Karen and paced by Reg’s guitar the song seems to shimmer on the horizon with Ives’ flute adding to the atmosphere of delicacy.
“Like A Knife” is another three way collaboration but given the escapist theme of the song I’d guess it’s predominately Biggins’ baby. Sanderson’s bass clarinet and tenor sax swirl around a shuffling electronic rhythm with Reg’s guitar also prominent in the mix.
“These Things Happen” is written by the Cleggs and features Reg on lead vocal, duetting with wife Karen. The intriguing arrangement juxtaposes electronic rhythms against Reg’s acoustic guitar, Ives’ flute and the woody clarinet of another guest, Michael Aggio.
Biggins’ “I Didn’t Mean To Fall In Love With You” is yet another broken relationship song. Karen’s singing is as close to orthodox jazz phrasing as anything on the album. Reg’s acoustic guitar paces the delicate arrangement and Ben Lee adds plaintive, mournful trumpet. The starkness of the arrangement makes this one of the album’s most effective songs. The way the group drop out as Karen sings the word “silence” is a neat touch.
The trio written“Energy” is more urgent, rhythmically driven and Latin tinged but behind the sunny exterior is a bitter lyric regretting “all this wasted energy”. This contrast/tension between the musical arrangement and the lyrical content make for an intriguing and convincing song.
“Leave It All Behind” is another of Biggins’ wistful “escape” songs with Sanderson’s floaty soprano sax prominent in the arrangement.
Reg & Karen’s “Kill a Man Today” explores the the motorist’s temptation to mow down a luckless pedestrian. We’ve probably all felt that urge, but like the protagonist of the song never gone through with it. Sanderson features here on flute alongside Ives’ ewi.
Biggins’ “Disguise” with Karen’s semi spoken hipster vocal proved a big favourite at Lichfield and works well here in an arrangement just featuring the core trio. Paul and Karen’s keyboards (the latter takes the piano solo) are supported by Reg on acoustic bass and guitar.
By contrast the closing “Changes”, also by Biggins, is an outlet for sextet with Beestin, Sanderson (tenor) and Lee added to the core trio. Powered by Beestin’s insistent groove Reg (guitar) and Lee take the instrumental honours.
“End Of The Telegraph Wires” is a distinctive record, fusing jazz based arrangements to conventional song based forms. Karen Clegg’s vocals are cool and assured throughout and although none of these songs is a real jaw dropper the group consistently try to keep things interesting. The lyrics may not be up to Becker and Fagen’s standards but they are an attempt to sing something more interesting than the usual “moon in June” fluff. The combination of acoustic and electric instruments works well on these painstaking, mainly keyboard led arrangements and all the guests make a significant contribution. It will be interesting to see how Zoo develop from here especially with Sanderson in the band. He was the star instrumentalist at Lichfield and I’d have liked to have heard more from him here. “Telegraph Wires” is Zoo’s third album following the earlier “Greenhouse” and “Endangered Species”. Maybe the next (quintet) album will be the real killer.

 

24/04/2009 The Musician

ZOO : 'End of the telegraph wires'

"Eclectic fusion from this Derbyshire quintet, who are building an enduring reputation as an act to watch, thanks to their distinctive sax and vocal approach. These 14 cuts of top drawer jazz are sure to shake up the competition"

 

24/04/2009 City Review

ZOO : 'End of the telegraph wires'

‘Having picked up the Best Jazz Artist title at the Glasswerk New Music Awards in 2007 and being selected for the East Midlands Jazz ‘Rhythm-a-ning’ project this year, this Derbyshire-based outfit is beginning to make the right noises. It’s easy to see why – their jazz-fusion sound has quality written through it with some excellent arrangements of their own compositions.

 

27/02/2009 The Beat Surrender

ZOO : Album: End Of The Telegraph Wires

‘…some of it smoulders of a late night sex soundtrack, especially on tracks like Button By Button, Mutual, Big Red Bus and Like A Knife.’

 

21/02/2009 Sea of Tranquility

Zoo: End Of The Telegraph Wires

Zoo are a modern jazz trio from the UK who were formed at the turn of the decade, End Of The Telegraph Wires being their sixth full length release. Karen Clegg has a distinctive voice that provides a mesmerising vibe when set against the bands smooth yet evocative arrangements. And if the word 'Jazz' is an immediate turn off or gives you shudders down the spine then you'll be relived to hear that Zoo succeed in making it far more accessible than most without any hints of self-indulgence. They are clearly on a mission to bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century and with the exception of the near ten minute 'Big Red Bus' the tracks are generally around the six minute mark and sound all the better for it. There are a number of subtle blends of acoustic and electric touches that is further enhanced by the crisp and clear production.
A genuine contemporary jazz album that is both refreshing and enjoyable.

 

31/01/2009 mybrumtv.co.uk

Band create career-defining album
Zoo End Of The Telegraph Wires Red Admiral Records

ZOO craft their sound well using all manner of instruments to create jazz not heard since Ella Fitzgerald. Present are saxophones, trumpets, a piano - even a tin whistle, all of which are skillfully played to make a relaxing, peaceful sound.

For many songs there are no need for vocals as the sublime 9-minute ‘Big Red Bus’ delivers the kind of smoky, jazz bar music that easily stands up on it’s own merit. For such songs as ‘Energy’ and ‘Open Air’ though, vocals are present and are slow, soft, high but oddly soothing.

For move around the jazz world and Zoo is currently the name on everyone’s lips and with ‘End of the Telegraph Wires’ they may have just created their career-defining album. We can finally add Zoo to the long list of true jazz greats. Released: December 9

For Fans of: Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa

 

21/01/2009 FATEA Records

ZOO : Album: End Of The Telegraph Wires

Fatea's favourite jazzers, Zoo, are back with a new album, "End Of The Telegraph Wires". Like folk music, jazz has preconception problems with large swathes of the population who still associate the genre with smokey clubs and strangely dressed blokes in cravats. Zoo really are doing all they can to get away from all that whilst keeping the essential elements that make their sound easily identifiable as Jazz. Yes there is a mellowness to some of the songs, aided by Karen Clegg's sublime vocal, but the overwhelming element of this album is that it's contemporary, right now.

 

24/07/2008 BBC WM

‘Fabulous, fantastic and distinctive’

 

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