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Centreline Theory is an impressive debut for British drummer, composer Jim Bashford's Construction with his fellow countrymen, bassist Tim Harries (Bill Bruford's Earthworks, Brian Eno), saxophonist Robin Fincker (Vincent Courtois, Whahay) and Icelandic guitar ace Hilmar Jensson (Tim Berne, Jim Black's AlasNoAxis). Bashford is also an educator and busy session artist who seems equally comfortable engaging the free jazz realm, evidenced by his stints with tenor sax titan Paul Dunmall, and jazz fusion among other idioms and spinoffs.
It's a manifold presentation, where firmly rooted motifs intersect with hefty doses of improvisation. Yet the leader's compositional fortitude is marked by a penchant for integrating memorable hooks and themes into the big picture. The band navigates through a free-form open world with gutsy jazz fusion metrics as Harries' thick electric bass lines generate a heavy and fluid bottom in concert with Bashford's holistic approach to drumming.
The diverse track layout is a key ingredient. For example, "Syeung Don Teen (Space Between the Eyes)" commences with dense layers of sound-sculpting that summons imagery of a subterranean habitat. But the following track "Abandon," is branded with a harmonious theme, abetted by Robin Fincker's singing tenor sax lines and offset by Jensson's crunching e-guitar notes. Here, the quartet contrasts an affable hook with a foreboding vista. And "108 Movements" is constructed with a circular sax-guitar ostinato, peppered by Bashford who leads a staggered progression dappled with a bit of angst via Fincker's creaky phrasings.
The quartet closes out the program on "Contraband," devised with a spicy motif and funky overtones as Bashford stretches out after the band goes full steam ahead atop Harries' pumping notes. Ultimately, I hope this group keeps the train rolling with subsequent undertakings, especially since the artists convey the capacity and chutzpah to thoroughly extend their musical joyrides into other pastiches of the jazz vernacular.
Track Listing: Attack And Defense Pyramidsl Saam Pai Fut (Three Times Praying To Buddha):
Syeung Don Teen (Space Between The Eyes); Abandon; The Octave Doctors And
The Crystal Machine; Centreline Theory; HELM; 108 Movements; Journeys Art;
Personnel: Tim Harries: bass; Robin Fincker: tenor saxophone; Hilmar Jensson: guitar; Jim
Bashford: drums and cymbals.