Artist: Julian Arguelles

Date of Release: 25/05/2009

Catalogue no: SRCD 29-2

Label: Basho

Price: £7.50

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Track Listing







Barcelona 1936




You See My Dear








Evan's Freedom Pass




Skull View




Hi Steve




Mish Mash






All compositions by Julian Argüelles
The Frankfurt Radio Big Band conducted by Julian Arguelles.

1 Barcelona 1936 9:40
Solos: Gwilym Simcock piano, Julian Argüelles tenor saxophone

2 You See My Dear 4:18
Solo: Julian Argüelles tenor saxophone, Gwilym Simcock piano

3 Phaedrus 9:28
Solos: Julian Argüelles tenor saxophone, Gwilym Simcock piano

4 Evan's Freedom Pass 8:21
Solos: Julian Argüelles tenor saxophone, Axel Schlosser trumpet, Gwilym Simcock piano, Thomas Heidepriem bass, Paul Höchstädter drums

5 Skull View 10:09
Solos: Gwilym Simcock piano, Martin Scales guitar

6 Hi Steve 12:45
Solos: Julian Argüelles soprano saxophone, Axel Schlosser Flugelhorn

7 Mish Mash 11:44
Solos: Martin Scales guitar, Julian Argüelles soprano saxophone, Peter Feil trombone




01/02/2010 Cadence

Momenta features British saxophonist Julian Arguelles playing some of his large ensemble compositions accompanied by pianist Gwilym Simcock and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band. Arguelles’ pieces are out of the romantic, near-classical strain of big band writing fostered by artists like Gil Evans and Bob Brookmeyer. Settings include a lyrical tango on “Barcelona 1936,” a somber horn chorale on “You See, My Dear” and a delicate Jazz waltz on “Hi Steve,” with gracefully arching ensemble parts that sometimes recall Sketches Of Spain and set the table for elegant solos by Arguelles and Simcock.
Arguelles shows off his uptempo side on the brassy, surging “Evan’s Freedom Pass” with horns and saxes rolling about at a breakneck pace and the appropriately titled “Mish Mash,” a heady mix of a charging “Mission Impossible” soundalike theme featuring wah wah guitar alternating with periods of Steve Reichian repetition. Julian Arguelles’ has long been known as an impressive saxophonist. This set really shows off his formidable composing skills.


25/06/2009 The Scotsman

Earlier this year the saxophonist issued the excellent Inner Voices, a multi-layered but entirely solo disc. This disc takes him to the opposite end of the jazz spectrum in a live recording with the Frankfurt Radio Bigband and guest pianist Gwilym Simcock. The saxophonist takes the lead role as soloist on both tenor and soprano, but leaves ample room for Simcock and several fine soloists from the band.

They draw on compositions from various points in his output, including the new, Spanish-tinged ‘Barcelona 1936’, the idiosyncratic ‘Skull View’, a fiery nod to Evan Parker in ‘Evan’s Freedom Pass’, the almost pastoral contours of ‘Hi Steve’ and the delicious ‘Mish Mash’. He sidesteps all the conventional clichés of big band writing and arranging, and the Frankfurt musicians revel in the shifting moods and colours.


02/06/2009 Chris May, All Aboutjazz.com

Following fast on the delicately wrought solo album Inner Voices (Tone Of A Pitch, 2008), on which Julian Arguelles played a panoply of overdubbed saxophones, clarinets and flutes, here's a more extrovert outing from the lyrical and emotionally engaged British reed player. Momenta was made with the 16-piece Frankfurt Radio Bigband, and has the added bonus of rising star Gwilym Simcock, more usually associated with the saxophonist Tim Garland, as featured pianist.

During the 1980s, Arguelles spent four years as a member of the fondly remembered, prankster-ish, 21-piece British band Loose Tubes, the finishing school for several other emergent talents including keyboard player Django Bates, saxophonists Ian Ballamy and Mark Lockheart, guitarist John Parricelli, and Arguelles' drummer and percussionist brother, Steve Arguelles. Less media attuned and more self-effacing than some of his fellow Loose Tubes graduates, Arguelles remains uncelebrated outside a relatively small circle of musicians and cognoscenti, despite making a string of superb albums with a wide variety of lineups, from small groups to a 20-piece string ensemble, since 1990.

Arguelles began working with the Frankfurt Radio Bigband in 2007, and Momenta was recorded live in Germany in 2008. The inclusion of Simcock, a gorgeously lyrical player, came about by chance, following the unexpected unavailability of the band's regular pianist. Arguelles made the most of the situation, adjusting several scores to feature Simcock, who solos on five of the seven tracks. Other soloists include trumpeter/flugelhornist Axel Schlosser and guitarist Martin Scales, each of whom solos on two tracks. Arguelles, who here restricts himself to tenor and soprano saxophones, solos on six tracks, mostly on tenor.

The tunes, a collection of originals old and new, are given suite-like cohesion by Arguelles' school of Gil Evans arrangements. Like Evans, Arguelles has a penchant for Hispanic flavors—after a pensive beginning, the arrangement of 1996's "Skull View" breaks into an intense second section punctuated by flamenco-like hand-claps and a wordless, soulful vocal refrain from trumpeter Tobias Weidinger—but unlike Evans, he's significantly informed by the European classical tradition, particularly its impressionist composers. Most of tunes are closely arranged, the exception being "Evan's Freedom Pass," which after a brassy, urgent opening section sounding like an updated 1950s TV cop show theme, evolves into an extended free-improv duet from Arguelles and Schlosser.

Arguelles and Simcock, who as soloists are the twin focus of the album, are well matched. Both are wonderfully melodic improvisers and Arguelles' occasional acerbic chromaticism is an effective complement to Simcock's unabating romanticism. Guitarist Scales, who contributes a flowing in-the-tradition solo to "Skull View" and some post-Jimi Hendrix, wah-wah soaked atmosphere to "Mish Mash," is another pleasure.

A sterling and absorbing disc which delivers the same sense of solace as a beautiful landscape.


01/06/2009 Duncan Heining, Jazz UK

Finally to my 'CD of the Issue'. Julian Arguelles' Momenta (Basho) feautures the brilliant HR Big Band out of Frankfurt and Arguelles' labelmate pianist Gwilym Simcock. It's jazz with a hint of Spanish, graced by some terrific, rich tunes and arrangements. The solos stick in the mind too, as does Arguelles' opulent, Wayne Marsh-like tenor sound. This is how it's done. Perfection.


30/05/2009 John Bungey, The Times

The saxophonist configures his compositions old and new for the Frankfurt Radio Big Band to deliver warm-hearted music with all the clout and none of the clichés of big-band jazz. Among the soloists, Gwilym Simcock, pianist du jour, makes telling contributions, mixing fire and romanticism, while Argüelles himself is on song.


29/05/2009 Peter Bacon, The Jazz Breakfast

Saxophonist and composer Julian Arguelles has been in residence in Frankfurt, working with the HR Big Band. In his spare time he recorded the recent solo project Inner Voices, but this live recording shows the rewards of the day job – his own compositions played live by the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, with guest soloist Gwilym Simcock on piano and, of course, the man himself on tenor and soprano saxophones.

Barcelona 1936 is the opener, written specially for the band, and with strong solos from both Simcock and Arguelles, whose lyrical, long lines of improvisation are so distinctive and yet always sound so fresh. It’s a great piece of jazz orchestral writing having a modern Spanish tinge and yet also sounding poignantly nostalgic.

Most of the rest of material will be familiar to Arguelles fans but it is great to hear it played by larger forces, for which re-arrangements were necessary. It includes You See My Dear from Inner Voices, Phaedrus and Hi Steve from way back at the start of his solo recording career (1990 to be precise), and Evan’s Freedom Pass from his trio album Partita.

Strikingly, there is only one piece from his Octet book, now called Skull View but which I seem to remember was once called Head Pan. The Octet is one of my favourite bands, able to give a rich mini-orchestral scope to the music but small enough to have the liveliness of a jazz combo. So maybe that’s why I find this among the most satisfying pieces here, having a bit more energy, while some of the playing elsewhere feels a little too polite. Simcock’s solo here is a particular gem.

Mish Mash is the closer, a multi-sectioned piece which really raises the temperature during Martin Scales’ guitar solo, before falling back to that lovely thing Arguelles does with a horn section, getting them to play overlapping single note, minimalist riffs, over which he solos on soprano. It then changes in mood once more for a Peter Feil trombone solo.

Momenta is another highly worthwhile addition to the Arguelles catalogue, and a reminder that the scope and depth of his contribution to 21st century jazz continues to grow.


25/05/2009 Kenny Mathieson, The Scotsman 4 stars ****

THE East Lothian-based saxophonist Julian Argüelles can't be accused of not ringing the changes on the recording front. He follows his recent multi-layered but entirely solo Inner Voices CD with this excellent live set at the other extreme of the numbers game, featuring the Frankfurt Radio Bigband and guest pianist Gwilym Simcock.

Argüelles is the main soloist on both tenor and soprano saxophones, and has composed all seven pieces on the album, drawn from various points in his prolific career.

His writing and arranging avoids the clichés of big band conventions, and offers a pleasing variety of moods and colourings, taking in the Spanish-tinged Barcelona 1936, idiosyncratic but elegant ballads in You See My Dear and Skull View, the fiery contortions of Evan's Freedom Pass, the almost pastoral contours of Hi Steve and the delicious Mish Mash along the way.

The Frankfurt musicians take on the challenges with aplomb, and the saxophonist provides space for several fine soloists from the band to have their say as well


22/05/2009 Irish Times 5 stars*****

Argüelles has played in and written for big bands before, but this live recording with the Frankfurt Radio Bigband may be his finest yet in the genre. There’s a flourish, warmth and generosity to the music here, coupled with an individual sense of line, colour and contrast, that goes back to his late-1990s octet writing. Now it’s writ larger and with even greater maturity and authority. The scope is wide. There are Iberian musical echoes in Barcelona 1936 , a graceful, sweeping tribute to the hopes and horrors of the Civil War, and in the glorious Skull View. Hi Steve , a waltz, is sheer lyrical beauty, while Phaedrus is a cogent, swinging and imaginative big band performance. And in Evan’s Freedom Pass he organises outside-the-envelope blowing persuasively. There’s more to savour, including captivating solos from Argüelles on tenor and soprano, piano wunderkind Gwilym Simcock, and flugelhornist Axel Schlosser.


22/05/2009 John Fordham, The Guardian 4 stars****

Celebrated UK improvisers Julian Arguelles (saxes) and Gwilym Simcock (piano) front the Frankfurt Radio Big Band on these elegant performances, featuring old and new Arguelles pieces, and rich orchestral arrangements that belong on the Gil Evans/Maria Schneider axis and occasionally stray toward Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra. The music is full of surprising turns, yet much of Arguelles's improvising on tenor sax sounds like Stan Getz, in that it suggests irresistible forward motion without insistence or urgency. The lilting Barcelona 1936 evokes the Liberation Music feel in its rising and subsiding brass harmonies, and Evan's Freedom Pass is like 21st-century West Side Story Bernstein before its busy clamour breaks out into collective improv. Skull View, an older Arguelles vehicle, starts wistfully and turns into a Spanish handclapping dance, and Mish Mash mingles Schneider's swooping feel, a John Surman-like soprano-sax reflectiveness, and wah-wah guitar funk. It's all testament to Arguelles's growing stature on the playing and composing fronts.


22/05/2009 Andrew Vine, Yorkshire Post

The tenorman and composer Julian Arguelles hasdelivered some lovely records in recent years, and here's another winner. It finds him painting on a broader canvas than usual, in the company of the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, deploying them with imagination and originality in a series of his own compositions. He does, of course, solo beautifully. It isn't conventional big band stuff, but on the newly-written Barcelona 1936 and six others, he excels. The presence of fine young pianist Gwilym Simcock only adds to the air of excellence.


18/05/2009 BBC online

Momenta is the follow up to Julian Argüelles' recent Inner Voices. Where that album revealed the English saxophonist's more intimate, exploratory side in solo, multi-tracked pieces recorded in the evenings away from the orchestra, Momenta is its big band, heavyweight counterpart. Loose Tubes' unpredictable playfulness can sometimes be spied, perhaps inevitably given Argüelles' role in that group. There's also a greater sense of compositional cohesion here. As a result, Momenta has much to recommend it.??

You See My Dear is regal in aspect and assured in the richness of the orchestral resource which acts as its foundation. There's a moment, half a minute before the end, that's key to the whole composition. Every instrument draws breath, pauses and then sounds an unexpectedly oblique chord before swooning to its conclusion. This mixture of the assured and the unexpected is indicative of the best parts of Momenta. Occasionally though, as on Hi Steve, the music comes a little too close to sounding run of the mill.

??Evan's Freedom Pass ratchets up the tension – and speed - with constant arpeggios, blaring trumpets and snaking sax. It feels like sitting in a fast car racing through the countryside, at least until the halfway point when our vehicle appears to slide around for a queasy minute or two before regaining traction and accelerating away again.??

Skull View initially essays an altogether different mood that is haunted and crepuscular. After a lovely, fluid guitar solo from Martin Scales, handclaps and wordless singing introduce a thrilling, almost Hispanic feeling to the music. Mish Mash ends on a high note complete with muscular wah-wah guitar and punchy chords. The orchestration achieves a precious luminosity coloured by Argüelles' gorgeous soprano solo that is genuinely affecting and proves to be Momenta's high point.


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