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Compassionate Dictatorship: Coup d'Etat

Ben McDonnell By

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An eclectic amalgam of improvisation, strong melodic themes and rhythmic twists is perhaps the best way to characterize Coup d'Etat, the debut album by Compassionate Dictatorship.



Comprised of four of London's most prominent jazz musicians—Jez Franks (guitar), Tori Freestone (sax), Jasper Hoiby (bass) and Ben Raynolds (drums)—Compassionate Dictatorship manages to achieve a cohesive group sound that still allows each member's original voice to be heard. The group is already receiving significant notice, and is looking forward to an autumn, 2007 national tour.

Rooted in the language of modern jazz composers such as Chris Potter and Kurt Rosenwinkel, Franks (and Freestone on "Bladey") writes with a fresh, vital and explorative approach. Whilst the pieces are often complex, they never feel contrived or overwritten. This is due to the effortless way in which they are performed and the composers' keen melodic sense.



Each member of Compassionate Dictatorship has his/her own unique improvisatory identity; far from the clash one might expect, the four voices complement each other well. This is especially true of Franks and Freestone, who are both listening and reacting to each other. The resulting interweaving melodic lines are a high point of the album.



Franks plays with intensity and passion, always developing and seeking new ideas. He has a clear articulate technique and tone, and a strong individual style. His comping is as inventive as his soloing, constantly undulating and moving.



Freestone has a warm and open tone, her playing is melodic and innovative. Exploring the full range of the saxophone, Freestone effortlessly switches between fiery and haunting melodies.



The rhythm section of Hoiby and Reynolds is dynamic and exciting. They work well together and provide lift and cohesion to the group. Hoiby is articulate and precise, and Reynolds has a great dynamic range. Together, they groove, even whilst playing in difficult feels and time signatures.



Coup d'Etat is a wonderful blend of virtuosity, beauty and passion. Twisting and shifting through melodic composition and inventive improvisation, Compassionate Dictatorship is exciting and exploratory yet retains a lyrical, organic feel.


Track Listing: The Hang; Bladey; Brain Pickle; Seizmic; Virtual Joyride; It

Personnel: Jez Franks: guitar; Tori Freestone: saxophone; Jasper Hoiby: bass; Ben Reynolds: drums

Title: Coup d'Etat | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: FMR Records


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