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Neame’s blossoming keyboard powers

One of the more striking British jazz albums of 2009

Last month, young Loop Collective vibraphonist Jim Hart, who shares the main solo duties with pianist Ivo Neame on this compositionally sophisticated set, released one of the more striking British jazz albums of 2009 with the quartet project Narrada. Brilliant young drummer James Maddren comes in for Outhouse’s Dave Smith here, but otherwise this is the same band, with bassist Jasper Høiby completing the lineup. But it’s far from the same music, and another revealing example of just how inventive highly schooled young UK jazzers have become without abandoning the general signposts of the jazz tradition. Where Hart’s album hinted at the serpentine music of Dave Holland or John Hollenbeck, Neame’s references are more directly connected to contemporary piano jazz – and though the vibraphonist’s polished lines make him the perfect foil, it’s really a showcase for Neame’s blossoming keyboard powers. Those qualities are flagged from the off in the leader’s sumptuously varied and rhythmically forceful long solo on the time-shifting title track. There are fast postboppers with stop-time variations, meditations turning into arrhythmic Latin grooves (Quixotic), bright melodic fragments dropping into preoccupied rocking vamps and then dreamy contemplation (the long Enigmatic). It’s a set full of edgy and characterful themes, matched by resourceful, conversational improvising.

– John Fordham, The Guardian, Dec 2009