Edinburgh-born drummer Andrew Bain's musical roots grew out of spells with The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and The National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland and London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he studied for his Bachelor of Music in classical and jazz percussion. He later moved to New York to study for his Master of Music Degree at the Manhattan School of Music in August 2001 and in subsequent years taught drums and jazz theory at the School. Bain divides his time playing in the United States and the United Kingdom (where this album was recorded). He's also a Senior Lecturer at the Birmingham Conservatoire. He still performs as a classical percussionist.
The Embodied Hope suite is impressive from the very start. Sheets of Coltrane-esque tenor saxophone embellish the majestic opener "Accompaniment," invoking that memorable Impulse! sound. "Hope" is altogether different with Jon Irabagon and George Colligan stating the upbeat melody, which, being the longest track at just over 12 minutes, leads into an extended relaxed outing. Far from a meditative Coltrane, there's more of a joyous Sonny Rollins feel here.
The brisk tempo of "Practice" is underpinned from the outset by Michael Janisch's resonant bass work. Andrew Bain introduces "Surprise" with some forceful drumming and continues to provide tight percussive stewardship to this fast-paced hard bop number. The relatively more abstract opening to "Listening" takes a more labyrinthine turn with a complex structure, the piece gradually evolving into an exuberant outing based around a compelling melody and Irabagon's fiery playing now evokes a Giant Steps feel. The tension is eased with the laid-back "Trust" which has a near-Country feel and a short reprise of "Hope" closes the set. Bain's skilled and memorable compositions on Embodied Hope are expertly executed with first rate playing and shimmering moments of sheer brilliance.
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