Awareness is the debut EP of Joe Sturges, a Madrid-born, Anglo-Hispanic drummer and composer. Four tracks and seventeen minutes of music offer a brief but tantalizing glimpse into Sturges' compositional mind, one as influenced by classical romanticism and minimalism as it is by jazz. A quintet of players deployed in changing quartet and duo settings suggest a composer with the confidence to vary the tools at his disposable, resulting in tunes of individually distinctive character.
Washing cymbals and Marcelo Wilson's delicate piano intro announce the title track, with Sarah Martinson's muted trumpet carving a plaintive path. Marta Bautista's double bass is a presence felt more than heard, while Sturges subtly employs an array of gentle rolls, wave-like cymbal washes and snare accents of varying intensity that infuse the general introspection with a restless edge. Tenor saxophonist Javier Vercher is to the fore on the vibrant "Near a Cherry Tree," veering between lyrical improvisation and, over a Latin-esque piano vamp, untethered overblowing, his fire fueled by Sturges' bustle.
Sturges swaps sticks for piano on the melancholy "Three Days Under A Moon," a ruminative duet with double bass that peters out before it really takes shape. The aptly titled "Summer" exudes breezy energy. Bautista and Martinson take fine solos before the romantic introspection that underpins much of Sturges' writing returns in the form of a gentle piano coda.
The EP's production qualities are high, with credit due to Sebastián Laverde's Jazztone Studios in Valencia, Spain. An accomplished debut of emotional depth, both in the writing and the playing, Awareness holds the promise of much more to come from the talented Joe Sturges.
Awareness; Near a Cherry Tree; Three Days Under a Moon; Summer.
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