Bryn Roberts: Ludlow (2005)
Ludlow is a showcase for the considerable gifts of the young Canadian pianist and composer Bryn Roberts. It's a sparkling, varied CD that gets better with each listen. The music is characterized by strong compositional frameworks and flowing improvisation.
Pianist Roberts composed all the material on Ludlow except the standard "Dancing In The Dark." His compositions have lengthier expositions than the standards played by earlier generations of jazz musicians. The title tune, for example, is an attractive line, long and flowing, with lyrical chord changes and stop-and-start rhythms that support sinuous improvisations, particularly by the fine young saxophonist Seamus Blake. In fact, it is Blake whose consistent excellence is responsible for the success of this album. His every solo is meticulously constructed, juggling complex ideas effortlessly, played with a warm, clear tone and a rolling swing. The fact that Blake eschews the electronic effects he has used elsewhere only serves to highlight his sound.
Roberts, too, is a gifted improviser who isn't afraid to take chances, while his technical command and relaxed swing contribute to the long, lyrical lines that are characteristic of both his improvising and his compositions. Besides the variations in form, Roberts' compositions use other devices characteristic of today's new mainstream. He is fond of odd time signatures, for example. "Indie" sports a 7/4 funk beat, and "Corrigan" is a 7/4 bossa nova. And everybody's at home in good old 4/4, as the up-tempo cooker "Hagamos Un Trato" proves.
Kudos also to the excellent rhythm section. Bassist Drew Gress plays with empathy, using imaginative note choices and placements. His lively walking on "Hagamos Un Trato" is also welcome. Mark Ferber is a marvelous young drummer who is most notable for his brilliant use of cymbal shadings and his righteous swing.
Track Listing: Ludlow; Indie; Fleure; Corrigan; Reruns; Eau De Vie; Dancing In The Dark; Hagamos Un Trato.
Personnel: Bryn Roberts, piano; Seamus Blake, tenor sax; Drew Gress, bass; Mark Ferber, drums.