WorldService Project: Relentless (2011)
Formed in 2009, and winner of the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award in 2010, WorldService Project rapidly established itself as a popular live act in London and across Britain, before branching out onto continental Europe with gigs in Norway and Germany. Its debut, Relentless, demonstrates that this is a band on a roll.
The quintet has a classic jazz lineup, centered around the piano of founder and main composer Dave Moorcroft. Eight of the nine tracks are Moorcroft originals, and reveal influences from an eclectic range of music, but the songs never sound formulaic or derivative. Instead, those influences blend into an integrated sound that occasionally sparks the question, "Was that a quote?" Thanks to the rhythm section, the majority of Moorcroft's songs are underpinned by enough of a groove to make them highly danceableone of the keys to the band's live success. The opener, "There's always one," is propelled by a cooking bass punctuated by quieter reflective interludes from piano plus cymbals. The band firmly establishes its jazz credentials when Tim Ower reels off an extended tenor saxophone solo that is impressively flowing and melodic. The album's title track lives up to its name, being a relentless riff-driven groove, featuring fine solos from trombone, piano and sax.
Relentless is not all up-tempo stuff, however; "Song for Jen," dedicated to the memory of a friend, effectively slows the pace and features a killer trombone solo from Raph Clarkson, its mournful tone adding great soul to the track. The trombonist is also showcased to good effect on his own piece "Business Transaction," the album's only non-Moorcroft composition. Dominated by Moorcroft's plaintive piano, "Bye bye" is a mellow reflection on the break up of a relationship that manages to beautifully convey the associated feelings of melancholy and loss.
From start to finish, Relentless is worth listening to repeatedly, and WorldService Project is a band to watch, as they are going places.
Track Listing: There's always one; Relentless; In that state of mind; Hero of the bus; Business transaction; Song for Jen; The screamer; Bye bye; Back so soon?
Personnel: Dave Moorcroft: piano, keyboards; Tim Ower: saxophones; Raph Clarkson: trombone; Conor Chaplin: bass; Neil Blandford: drums.
Record Label: Brooke Records