All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

19

Barbacana: Barbacana

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Barbacana is a UK-based group of interest on a number of levels. Chief among them is the presence of the very busy and talented keyboardist Kit Downes. Along with his namesake progressive jazz trio, Downes has worked in the prestigious company of European greats Django Bates and Julian Arguelles, as well as with American alto legend Lee Konitz. His compositions account for about half of the material on this self-titled debut and demonstrate his multi-genre influences. That said, Barbacana is a very democratic exercise, with multi-reedist—and past Downes collaborator—James Allsopp contributing pieces along with Adrien Dennefeld, who does double duty on guitar and cello.

Barbacana is full of complexity and unusually constructed pieces; two that stress the diversity and intricacy of the music are the opening "Animation" and subsequent "Steam." Respectively beginning with a jumble of saxophone, organ, guitar and some of the "objects" credited to percussionist Sylvain Darrifourcq, the chaos imperceptibly gives way to tranquility. "Steam," on the other hand, begins with a similarly mesmerizing theme before bringing the two-song cycle full circle with its energized conclusion.

Allsopp's somber low register provides a stark contrast to Darrifourcq's march-like beat as "Adobes" opens. The tenor works up to subdued growls and wails before Allsopp supplies a very effective proxy for a bass line. The very brief title track is the first signal of more traditional themes, incorporating a repetitive Latin rhythm into fast-paced improvisation. "For no raisin" begins with Darrifourcq's slow processional beat, joined by Downes' prepared piano and Allsopp's long fluid lines creating an atmosphere of near inertia. The mood is broken by Dennefeld's single-note blues, sharply punctuating the piece. In stylistic contrast, "Migration-Big BIG shop" is a ten-minute blowout, giving these multi-instrumentalists free rein to improvise.

This bass-less quartet features a multitude of instruments in the hands of top-tier musicians. Within individual pieces the effect is narration from different viewpoints and influences. Barbacana features great concepts and original ideas throughout. Where conventional structures are present, they rarely rely on traditional patterns and the result is that even the most melodic pieces in the collection are bristling with energy. Barbacana is an engaging and entertaining program of avant- garde music; sometimes beautiful, sometimes tenacious and always full of life.

Track Listing: Animation; Steam; Adobes; Barbacana; For no raisin; Migration-Big BIG shop; Outro.

Personnel: James Allsopp: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Sylvain Darrifourcq: drums, objects, toys; Adrien Dennefeld: guitar, cello; Kit Downes: organ, keyboard, prepared piano.

Title: Barbacana | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Babel Label

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Barbacana

Barbacana

Babel Label
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Ellipse CD/LP/Track Review
Ellipse
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 23, 2018
Read While We Still Have Bodies CD/LP/Track Review
While We Still Have Bodies
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Ghost Town Blues Band CD/LP/Track Review
Ghost Town Blues Band
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Toot Suite CD/LP/Track Review
Toot Suite
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Love + Time + Divination CD/LP/Track Review
Love + Time + Divination
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2018
Read Gleb Kolyadin CD/LP/Track Review
Gleb Kolyadin
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 22, 2018
Read "I Try To Remember Where I Come From" CD/LP/Track Review I Try To Remember Where I Come From
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "Small Town" CD/LP/Track Review Small Town
by John Kelman
Published: May 19, 2017
Read "NJO 40" CD/LP/Track Review NJO 40
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 1, 2017
Read "The Book of Transfigurations" CD/LP/Track Review The Book of Transfigurations
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Dust Shines" CD/LP/Track Review Dust Shines
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 13, 2018
Read "The Best of Bossacucanova" CD/LP/Track Review The Best of Bossacucanova
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 6, 2017