Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Awen Ensemble: Cadair Idris

6

Awen Ensemble: Cadair Idris

By

Sign in to view read count
Awen Ensemble: Cadair Idris
Here in Britain, jazz and folk music intersections have a long history. Putting aside the US-centric fusions of the trad bands of the 1950s, as exemplified by the Chris Barber Band's blend of New Orleans jazz and Depression-era folksongs, the movement really kicked off in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Husband and wife team John and Beverley Martyn's Road To Ruin (Island, 1970), featuring South African alto saxophonist Dudu Pukwana among other jazz musicians, remains a classic of its era, blending visceral jazz with newly composed folk songs chronicling contemporary North London's acid and dope-drenched countercultural demi-monde; circa 1970 the couple were troubadours for a scene stretching from Ladbroke Grove in the West through Hampstead and Camden Town on to Islington in the East. Then there was the band Pentangle, more folky than jazzy, but nonetheless a blend. The group's original bassist Danny Thompson also recorded with the Martyns.

More recently the composer, bassist and singer Ruth Goller has released two albums which are adjacent to the British folk-jazz tradition, if not directly part of it: Skylla (Vula Viel, 2021) and Skyllumina (International Anthem, 2024). For over fifteen years a backline star of London's underground jazz scene, Goller is at last moving centerstage (a 2024 AAJ interview with her can be read here).

Echoes of John and Beverley Martyn, Pentangle and Ruth Goller pepper Cadair Idris, the modal-jazz-meets-Celtic-folk debut album from the north of England-based collective Awen Ensemble. The band is a septet comprising singer Amy Clark, trumpeter and flugelhornist Emyr Penry Dance, tenor saxophonist Saul Duff, electric guitarist Ruari Graham, Fender Rhodes player Glen Leach, double bassist Joe Wilkes and bodhranist Eddie Bowes. The album's lead single, "Ionawr," is indicative of the music's breadth (check the YouTube below).

The album's nine tracks follow the journey of a young woman who spends a night alone on the real-life North Wales mountain Cadair Idris in search of personal transformation. The vibe is spectral and windswept and shrooms may or may not be involved. The effect is almost as pagan and every bit as spiritual as that of a Ruth Goller album. The folk strand is hardwired into the ancient traditions of Celtic folk music, the jazz strand is inventive, and the combination is enchanting. Double bassist Joe Wilkes' richly resonant parallels with Danny Thompson, actual or imagined, add to the magick.

Track Listing

Euwn i mi; Idris; Unsettled; Rhyd; Ionawr; Cynefin; If I Fall; Zorny; Upon Leaving The Dream.

Personnel

Amy Clark
vocals
Saul Duff
saxophone, tenor
Ruari Graham
guitar, electric
Glen Leach
keyboards
Joe Wilkes
bass, acoustic
Eddie Bowes
percussion
Additional Instrumentation

Emyr Penry Dance: trumpet, flugelhorn; Glen Leach: Fender Rhodes; Eddie Bowes: bodhrán.

Album information

Title: Cadair Idris | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: New Soil


Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Heaven On My Mind
Yuri Honing Acoustic Quartet
Beatin' the Odds
Leigh Pilzer
Nimble Digits
Geoff Stradling

Popular

The Seagull's Serenade
Dominik Schürmann
Heartland Radio
Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows
Slow Water
Stephan Crump

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.