Three years after its debut release, Transitions (33 Jazz), the Julian Costello Quartet returns with Connections: without borders. The debut was recorded in Italy, but for the follow-up the London-based band decamped to Norway, to record nine of leader and saxophonist Costello's compositions at Blueberry Fields studios in Heggedal. The tunes are indeed connected, reflecting how people are connected to places through music and how music transcends borders, as Costello notes on the album sleeve.
There's one change to the quartet responsible for Transitionsdouble bassist Jakub Cywinski replaces Yuri Goloubev. Cywinski fits neatly into the line-up, which is notable for the warmth and subtlety each musician brings to the sound. He's an economical player, providing an unhurried but swinging foundation alongside drummer Adam Teixeira. On electric or classical guitar, Maciek Pysz contributes melodic lead lines and fluid solos.
Costello's tenor sound is rich and upbeat, on soprano his tone brightens and his playing becomes more urgentthe soprano, classical guitar and percussion interplay on the title track blends the sound of Iberian and North African influences to excellent effect. The playful "Rainforest" is another soprano-led number, one again combining with classical guitar, and features a lengthy midsection in which Costello and Pysz trade phrases in good-natured competitive spirit as Teixeira and Cywinski take a break. Tracks such as "Endless Train" and "Everyone Has A Story" put the tenor center-stage and tend towards a gentler, more relaxed, approach. Only the 10-minute "Bridges" reaches anything approaching wildness, mainly through Teixeira's muscular drumming. Throughout, Costello proves to be a writer with a talent for inventive and memorable melodies, even when evoking a more mysterious mood on the film noir-like "Splashing In Puddles." The quartet does a fine job of interpreting these compositions. The result is an album filled with beauty and irrefutable evidence for the importance of musical connections.
Everyone Has A Story; Sunflowers; Connections; Nord Vind; Rainforest; Endless Train; Splashing In Puddles;
Bridges; Rivers And Rapids.