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Alyn Cosker: KPF

Dan Bilawsky By

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The music of Alyn Cosker—the resident drummer of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra—is neither here nor there. While his work firmly rests in the miles-wide jazz camp, its synthesis of disparate styles and identities offers it shielding from easy labels within. Take "Serenity," the album's lead-off track, for example. Augmenting an electrified quintet with mandolin, accordion, fiddle, and alto saxophone, Cosker creates a powerful and uncategorizable blend that sits, swirls, storms, and dances around a stabilizing piano beacon. It's a song that calls on the wisdom and clarity of its titular prayer while also acknowledging the shake-ups in life that lead many to embrace it.

In the ten tracks that follow, Cosker continually rises above expectations by skirting them. With "Yatey Ate" he completely embraces a rock-fusion aesthetic, putting guitarist Davie Dunsmuir and keyboardist Steve Hamilton out front; on "Dragons" he invites Rachel Lightbody's entrancing voice into the fold, melding the definitions of songwriter and composer in the process; through the concise title track, his peaceable piano playing speaks volumes about the love of his life; and during "Could Be Fate" he embraces a cooler aesthetic, providing breathing room.

A number of notable guests add to the variable mix—Joe Locke's vibraphone proves euphonious in its melodic shading and soloing behind Cosker's slow-and-slick groove play on "Purely Intertwined," Tommy Smith's tenor throws down on the slamming "Shoogly Paw," Fraser Anderson's vocals call to feelings of loss on the album-closing "Two Stars In The Sky," and several others drop in at points along the way—but the album belongs to Cosker in every respect. As composer, lyricist, arranger, drummer, periodic pianist and all-around musical director, he never misses a beat.

Track Listing: Serenity; Yatey Ate; Dragons; Purely Intertwined; KPF; Hee Haw Twice; We Were Young; The Adventures Of Feskelar; Could Be Fate; Shoogly Paw; Two Stars In The Sky.

Personnel: Alyn Cosker: drums, piano (1, 3, 5, 11), shaker (3, 9); Steve Hamilton: keyboards, piano; Marcio Doctor: percussion; Dave Dunsmuir: electric guitar; Colin Cunningham: electric bass (2, 4-11); Fraser Anderson: vocals (11); Adam Bulley: mandolin (1); Jim Cosker: piano (7); Laurence Cottle: electric bass (1, 3); Fiona Hamilton: fiddle (1); Kirsty Johnson: accordion (1); Rachel Lightbody: vocals (3); Joe Locke: vibraphone (4); Chas Mackenzie: acoustic guitar (7); Eddi Reader: vocals (7); Tommy Smith: tenor saxophone (3, 10); Paul Towndrow: alto saxophone (1).

Title: KPF | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: NYLA Recordings

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