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-reedistand past Downes collaboratorJames 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.
Animation; Steam; Adobes; Barbacana; For no raisin; Migration-Big BIG shop; Outro.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.