IDST: Seven Dials (2009)
As the youthful sextet IDST demonstrates, exciting developments in British jazz are not confined to London, nor do all British jazz musicians succumb to the lure of the capital (or not immediately anyway). IDST was formed in 2007 in the Yorkshire city of Leeds in northern England, where it continues to be based, and its players are informed by a distinctly regional cultural tradition. The group has, however, come to the attention of London based movers and shakers like ginger group and funding body Jazz Services, and promoters Serious, whose support, along with that of Jazz Yorkshire, is helping IDST develop a national following.
IDST stands for If Destroyed Still True, which suggests an apocalyptic ambiance entirely lacking in the band's music. Instead, Seven Dials is a marriage of acoustic jazzin which trumpeter Miles Davis' mid-1960s quintet with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams resonatesand English folk music. But in a reversal of normal roles, in this marriage it's the English folk music that wears the trousers.
There's nothing folksy about IDST, but folk structures are at the core of music, which is lyrical and harmonically fresh, and whose emphasis on through composition makes frequent use of thematic returns and recalibrations. The pervasive mood is one of angular pastoralism, frequently erupting into a fiercer turbulence, with most arrangements moving back and forth between both ambiancesmuch like the unpredictable weather on the moors around Leeds. The blues and its cousins are heard only occasionally, and fleetingly, around the edges (don't be misled by the name of the record label), as in the late night funk feel of guitarist Nick Tyson, bassist Seth Bennett and drummer Tommy Evans' vamps on "Vext Next Ex," or the keening solos of tenor saxophonist Simon Kaylor on "Bingo Wings" and "Grove Road," both heavily reminiscent of John Coltrane circa Crescent (Impulse!, 1964).
Kaylor is the player with the most pronounced American influences, and while his tone and attack do not quite have the concentrated weight of Coltrane yet, he gets pleasingly close. Trumpeter Simon Beddoe, who plays with a broad textured, open sound (if he does mutes, none of them stick in the mind), is harder to pin down. Harder still are Tyson, Bennett, pianist Johnny Tomlinson and Evans, the group's leader and main composer. There are echoes of Robert Fripp and Bill Frisell in Tyson, and Avishai Cohen in Bennett, but both are idiosyncratic stylists. And while Tomlinson's rhapsodic touch evokes Red Garland, his harmonic invention is very much his own. Each player gets an equal slice of solo space except Evans, who takes care of the pulse and the rhythms, some quite complex.
With funding from Jazz Services and the main stage clout of Serious, IDST are scheduled to appear at several major British jazz festivals in summer 2009, and will tour nationally in 2010. A lot more will be heard of them. Meanwhile, Seven Dials is a great taster.
Track Listing: Bingo Wings; Help Me Help You, Help Me, You; Last Legs; Nothing Great Is Easy (A Tribute To Captain Webb); Seven Dials; Hope; Grove Road; Vext Next Ex; Home To The Dryad.
Personnel: Simon Kaylor: tenor saxophone; Simon Beddoe: trumpet, flugelhorn; Nick Tyson: guitar; Johnny Tomlinson: piano; Seth Bennett: double bass; Tommy Evans: drums.
Record Label: Groove Laboratory Productions
Style: Modern Jazz