The ground-breaking London trio Wildflower features bassist Leon Brichard, saxophonist Idris Rahman, and drummer Tom Skinner of the group Sons of Kemet. Brichard and Rahman are founding members of Ill Considered. Similar in style, the music of Wildflower has the fundamentals of post-minimalism, hard bop, and free improvisation. Spiritual and powerful, Better Times mostly lives up to its title, even while leaving the frustrating sense of an unkept promise.
An outstanding reed player on the hot London jazz scene, Rahman is the defacto leader of Wildflower. As a music teacher in an underserved and troubled neighborhood of London, Rahman uses his own resources to ensure that students have the supplies they need. His dedication to the art is ever-present as he guides the trio through these outstandingly conceived ideas. The color-coded titles are meant to convey a variety of moods; Brichard and Skinner mixing fluctuating shapes, with Rahman painting over them. This EP opens with "Blue," a stinging piece that ripples like vibrations on still water. Brichard brings a slow, catchy bass line to the moody "Yellow." The music breathes more on "Green," after a patient lead-in opens to a soulful, funky sound. Wildflower's previous albums' jazz and Afrobeat qualities are intact on the thoroughly entertaining "Red."
The relatively short numbers "Blue" and "Yellow"each about four minutesbuild to dramatic saxophone crescendos only to abruptly fade out. They feel like incomplete thoughts. It is unsatisfying and somewhat annoying, that these brief pieces could not be brought to a more conclusive point. That said, Rahman's work is always compelling and full of emotion. In his narrative, he does not confine all his attention to telling the story; his approach to composing continues to expand and loosen the reigns of convention. Hopefully, the talented, versatile Wildflower gives us more to savor next time out.