235

Muirhead Quartet: All or Nothing

Seton Hawkins By

Sign in to view read count
Muirhead Quartet: All or Nothing The sprawling double-CD release, All or Nothing, by the Cape Town-based Muirhead Quartet proves to be one of 2010's most forcefully unique, probing, and genre-defying albums. Featuring four stellar artists, the album packs a tremendous aural wallop by offering a veritable master class on just about every major style of jazz that has emerged in the past fifty years. While many recent jazz releases offer little more than star-studded jam sessions, All or Nothing presents a rare treat, with its four talented musicians honing their craft as a unit, exploring the depths of their art, and then delivering their findings.

As can be imagined, the album is extremely difficult to pigeonhole—or even describe succinctly. Some tracks are hard-driving, post-bop tunes that would sound at home on a Kenny Garrett record ("Some Bark"), while others are deeply funky jazz-rock outings ("Gaartjie"),and still others are icy and austere ballads that could make an ECM artist blush ("Dimension Perspective"). Paying tribute to their South African origins, the group also explores its hometown influences on the ghoema-inspired "Lucky" and the gorgeous township-style ballad "Mlungu." It's a truly restless and risky listen throughout the two CDs as the band jumps across stylistic boundaries with aplomb, but it succeeds, thanks to truly strong compositions and its remarkable lineup.

Guitarist Bruce Muirhead and saxophonist Mark Fransman share the melodic work, the two playing off one another quite effectively. While Muirhead alternates between bop-inspired and rock-informed lines (not to mention some effects pedals), his playing is anchored by disciplined and focused technique that yields exciting and fresh improvisation. Fransman's work confirms him as a truly undiscovered gem in the saxophone world; at times delicate and soft, Fransman can also deliver gruff, blues-infused growls as the mood requires. This flexibility is matched by the rhythm section: bassist Shaun Johannes, who is capable of both singing counterpoint and popping funk; and drummer Henirich Goosen, whose propulsive work creatively supports everything from the lightest ballad to the most blues-rock-tinged outing.

Through the double-CD gambit of All or Nothing, the Muirhead Quartet unequivocally establishes what is it capable of, in both composition and improvisation. While it's quite possible that the group's future albums might focus more in terms of style, this gleeful romp through jazz in all its glorious forms is far too much fun to pass up, and is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable and fascinating records of 2010.


Track Listing: Some Bark Intro; Some Bark; All Or Nothing; Chilla; You Naturally; Mr & Mischief; Dimension Perspective; Milky Mode; Lucky; Sausage Soup; Gaartjie; Simians; Talking Loud; The Now; Memory Stick; Mlungu; Miss Trillion; Thunder Hat; Transplanter.

Personnel: Bruce Muirhead: guitar; Mark Fransman: saxophones; Shaun Johannes: bass; Heinrich Goosen: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Joseph Kudirka:  Beauty and Industry" CD/LP/Track Review Joseph Kudirka: Beauty and Industry
by John Eyles
Published: March 9, 2016
Read "Clockwork" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwork
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2016
Read "Positive Changes" CD/LP/Track Review Positive Changes
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 29, 2016
Read "Roma-Rio" CD/LP/Track Review Roma-Rio
by Tyran Grillo
Published: May 22, 2016
Read "Altered Narratives" CD/LP/Track Review Altered Narratives
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 13, 2016
Read "Calm" CD/LP/Track Review Calm
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!