It's been a decade since Anglo-German quartet Paragon formed. Cerca, recorded on an unspecified two days in Cologne, is the band's third release. The sax and Rhodes frontline, backed up by Matthias Nowak's bass and Jon Scott's drums, creates an elegant repertoire of tunes that draws on influences as diverse as '60s spiritual jazz and hip-hop grooves.
Although the band's been around for ten years, Paragon's members can still be classed as part of the younger generation of contemporary jazzers. Their wide-ranging roll- call of collaborators and employers includes established players like Mike Walker and Nils Wogram, contemporaries such as Kristian Borring and spoken word artist Kate Tempest.
Saxophonist Peter Ehwald and Rhodes player Arthur Lea share composer creditsLea wrote four tunes, Ehwald six. The saxophonist's compositions tend to be stronger melodically, Lea's tend to put more emphasis on rhythm. As a result, Lea's have more immediate impact but Ehwald's reward closer concentration as they reveal themselves more slowly. Ehwald's tranquil "Linguine" and "Ballade" make good use of the contrast between his own warm sax tone and Lea's bright Rhodes: Lea's "Cerca De Ti" is much more assertive, built around Scott's hard-edged drum sound.
Lea's "Fat Pig" is an exception to the rule. Its slow, meandering, opening sets the tone for the next five minutes, the tune's improvised feel suiting the melancholy emotion the band projects. Mood and feel transfer to Ehwald's "North To South," although there's a slight increase in tempo and, consequently, the melancholy resolves to something a little more upbeat and optimistic. Most intriguing of all is Ehwald's "Glory," featuring Nowak's arco bass. It's a controlled, restrained, number that mixes beauty and tension in equal measure.
Cerca De Ti; East To West; Delhi Belly; Bohdan; Glory; Blue Eyes White Dragon; Fat Pig; North
To South; Linguine; Ballade.
Peter Ehwald: saxophones; Arthur Lea: Fender Rhodes; Matthias Nowak: double bass; Jon
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