Compassionate Dictatorship

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Reviews of Compassionate Dictatorship


09/11/0007 Lowestoft Journal

One of the features of live jazz that sets it apart from other forms of music is that very often the musicians who perform it do not play in settled bands with fixed line-ups. They are more likely to play in loose, ever-changing collaborations that may last for no longer than a single gig. This is one reason why jazz relies so much on well-known standards for its repertoire and why it is renowned for its unpredictable, edgy and improvised quality. The results can often be exhilarating, but occasionally they can be plain baffling.

How instructive then to hear Compassionate Dictatorship, a settled four-piece that has recorded together, in the middle of a lengthy national tour and performing all its own material. Co-led by guitarist Jez Franks and tenor saxophonist Tori Freestone, Compassionate Dictatorship showed that jazz that is carefully composed and rehearsed can be as edgy and exhilarating as its more spontaneous cousin.

Perhaps the key to the bands success was the easy precision of its rhythm section - Jasper Høiby (double bass) and Ben Reynolds (drums) - whose near telepathic understanding propelled the band from bebop to languid blues, from haunting ballads to funk, with an intuitive mastery that never lost its footing. It was coupled with fine compositions and excellent soloing from Franks and Freestone.


07/11/0007 allaboutjazz.com

An eclectic amalgam of improvisation, strong melodic themes and rhythmic twists is perhaps the best way to characterize 'Coup d'Etat', the debut album by ‘Compassionate Dictatorship’.

Comprised of four of London’s most prominent jazz musicians, Jez Franks (guitar), Tori Freestone (sax), Jasper Hoiby (bass) and Ben Raynolds (drums) manage to achieve a (cohesive) group sound that still allows each member’s original voice to be heard. ‘Compassionate Dictatorship’ is already being hailed as “one of the most exciting groups in recent years” by Avant Music Magazine and they are looking forward to a national tour in autumn of this year.

Rooted in the language of ‘modern jazz’ composers such as Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel et al, Jez Franks (and Tori Freestone on track 2) write with a fresh, vital and explorative approach. Whilst the pieces are often complex, they never feel contrived or overwritten. This is due to the effortless way in which they are performed and the composers’ keen melodic sense.

Each member of ‘Compassionate Dictatorship’ has their own unique improvisatory identity; far from the clash one might expect, the four voices complement each other well. This is especially true of Franks and Freestone who are both listening and reacting to each other; the resulting interweaving melodic lines are a high point of the album.

Jez Franks plays with intensity and passion, always developing and exploring new ideas. He has a clear articulate technique and tone, and a strong individual style. His comping is as inventive as his soloing, constantly undulating and moving.

Tori Freestone has a warm and open tone, her playing is melodic and innovative. Exploring the full range of the saxophone, Freestone effortlessly switches between fiery and haunting melodies.

The rhythm section of Hoiby and Reynolds is dynamic and exciting, they work well together and provide lift and cohesion to the group. Hoiby is Articulate and precise and Raynolds has a great dynamic range, they both groove even whilst playing in difficult feels and time signatures.

'Coup d'Etat' is a wonderful blend of virtuosity, beauty and passion. Twisting and shifting through melodic composition and inventive improvisation ‘Compassionate Dictatorship’ are exciting and exploratory yet retain a lyrical organic feel.


25/10/0007 Jazzwise Magazine

"New forward thinking quartet co-led by versatile guitar talent Jez Franks and equally adept saxophonist Tori Freestone (both highly respected Leeds College of Music tutors) this new band is another vital example of UK musicians embracing and incorporating both free jazz and rock elements into an edgy, risk taking approach to their music....original compositions of haunting beauty, using atmospheric textures over bubbling grooves...completing the band are bassist Jasper Høiby and drummer Ben Reynolds..."


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