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This week's jazz CDs reviewed

This week's jazz CDs reviewed

LOUIS SCLAVIS

Lost on the Way ECM****

Homer supplied the titles, but this musical odyssey of virtuosic bass clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Sclavis is a strictly contemporary journey. Rock and free improv colour the route, but there’s also an evocative, otherworldly touch of ritual to the music’s notably distinctive textures. Mostly written by Sclavis and full of odd, often complex lines, it’s performed by an exceptional quintet completed by Mathieu Metzger (soprano/alto), Maxime Delpierre (guitar), Olivier Lété (electric bass) and François Merville (drums). There’s a striking sense of order to the way Sclavis balances the individual and the collective; he encourages his soloists to take the road less travelled, but the results, particularly on De Charybde en Scylla, Le sommeil des sirènes and the title track, are full of the wry, maverick logic of his best work.

RAY COMISKEY

MARK LOCKHEART

In Deep Edition **** 

Lockheart, formerly of Loose Tubes, is a superb tenor and a composer with a rare gift for writing themes that develop organically and at their own pace. Often long-lined, with some deftly managed counterpoint, they have a character all their own. They, along with his quintet with Dave Priseman (trumpet), Liam Noble (piano), Jasper Hoiby (bass) and Dave Smith (drums), determine the personality of this lovely album. Lockheart’s voicings (using some brass overdubbing) have a fine appreciation of the tonal qualities the players bring to the table, but his skill in using their solo talents – he and Noble, particularly, are outstanding in a band with strong improvisers, at ease inside or outside the changes – is equally impressive. Standouts include Surfacing, Golden People, Long Way Gone, Undercovers, Believe It or Not and Sand Into Gold,each a capsule summary of the album’s virtues. www.editionrecords.com

STANLEY CLARKE

Jazz in the Garden Heads up ***

This swinger will confound any expectations based on Clarke’s fusion-laced past. With another near-veteran in drummer Lenny White and the fine young pianist Hiromi Uehara, the bassist leads an integrated, interactive trio that has the feel of a working band. In an often boppish, straightahead style, they bring a distinct, collective identity to bear on material as diverse as the vamp-based Paradigm Shift; a Japanese folk tune, Sakura Sakura; Ellington’s Take the Coltrane (a bass-drums duo); Miles’s Solar; and Joe Henderson’s Isotope. Clarke and Hiromi duet impressively on a free improv ( Global Tweak) and a standard ( Someday My Prince Will Come), while Clarke has a virtuoso feature on his own Bass Folk Song No 5 6. In essence, Jazz in the Garden is a visit to the past from a contemporary perspective by three gifted players thoroughly in sync with each other. www.propernote. co.uk

RAY COMISKEY