393

Jonathan Bratoeff & Chris Vatalaro: Chapters

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Jonathan Bratoeff & Chris Vatalaro: Chapters Unexpectedly, a trend has been developing among musicians associated with London's F-IRE collective to revisit the standards repertoire. It's not an area this experimentally inclined body of players usually inhabits, but the results so far—all recorded by duos—make it an engaging diversion.



Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and pianist Liam Noble were first off the block with Let's Call This (Babel, 2006). Noble returned to similar territory with percussionist Paul Clarvis on Starry Starry Night (Village Life, 2009). And now guitarist Jonathan Bratoeff and drummer Chris Vatalaro make their foray with Chapters. Each of these albums is a treasure well-versed in its source material and displaying much creative intimacy between its participants.



Almost half the tunes on Chapters are jazz standards or from the American popular songbook. Miles Davis' "Solar," Thelonious Monk's "Locomotive" and John Coltrane's "Lazy Bird" are only lightly recalibrated; Johnny Green's "Body And Soul," Frank Churchill's "Someday My Prince Will Come" and Ray Noble's "Cherokee" are so radically revamped that the sleeve credits extend co-authorship to Bratoeff and Vatalaro. The other eight tunes are either Bratoeff originals or co-written by Bratoeff and Vatalaro, some of them spontaneous electro-acoustic improvisations.



It says much for Bratoeff's melodic flair that the originals stand up well alongside the classics, and much for his harmonic sophistication that, their use of electronica aside, the performances wouldn't sound much out of place on an album recorded by guitarist Johnny Smith in the early 1950s. Vatalaro, an American drummer living in London, is an inventive and responsive collaborator, whether deep in a groove, as on "Alone Together" and the brief unaccompanied drum feature "The Marcellus Shale," or swinging perkily on "Locomotive," and generally moving things forward.



Electronica is used, subtly and inventively, throughout the set, not to provide background ambiances but to customize some of the natural timbres produced by the guitar and drums. Bratoeff's flowing single note runs, voluptuous chords and occasional rock-derived motifs are all from time to time given new sonic sheens, as are Vatalaro's fluttering brushwork (he spends more time on brushes than he does on sticks) and colourful use of cymbals.



There are occasional stormy moments, memorably so on the closing "Augur In The Coal Mine," but most of Chapters is delicate and softly-spoken. It sounds like two musicians playing for their own enjoyment in a spacious room full of sunlight. A bit like the YouTube clip below of Bratoeff's quartet performing at Charlie Wright's International Bar (though this room probably saw its last beam of sunlight circa 1950), only more so. Lovely stuff.


Track Listing: The Muybridge Line; Nothing Certain; Solar; Alone Together; The Marcellus Shale; Soon; A Chapter Ends; Wire Floor; Locomotive; Lazy Bird; Body And Soul; Someday My Prince Will Come; Cherokee; Augur In The Coal Mine.

Personnel: Jonathan Bratoeff: guitar; Chris Vatalaro: drums.

Title: Chapters | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: F-IRE Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Meeting My Shadow CD/LP/Track Review Meeting My Shadow
by James Nadal
Published: July 22, 2017
Read No Secrets No Lies CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read 50 CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Day After Day CD/LP/Track Review Day After Day
by John Eyles
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Invention of Knowledge" CD/LP/Track Review Invention of Knowledge
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Going North" CD/LP/Track Review Going North
by Chris Mosey
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "Expansions  Live" CD/LP/Track Review Expansions Live
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "East West Time Line" CD/LP/Track Review East West Time Line
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 10, 2017
Read "Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn" CD/LP/Track Review Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Streams
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!