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Wild Card is, at its heart, an organ trioguitarist and composer Clément Régert, organist Andrew Noble and drummer Sophie Alloway joined on Life Stories by a series of guests including trumpeter Graeme Flowers who was also an ever-present guest on the band's previous album, Organic Riot (Top End Records, 2015). Life Stories boasts a similar mix of instruments, voices and tunes to the previous album (although most of the guest players are new to the line-up) and, as before, funky grooves are the band's trademark. Régert's compositions constitute the majority of this album, eight of the 11 tracks. They're impressive. Opening track "Life Stories Intro" mixes a Blue Note hard-bop instrumental feel with some (uncredited) spoken word about the beauty of jazz. "Better Remorse Than Regret" features guest tenor player Denys Baptiste. It shifts between an up-tempo, full-on ensemble groove and Baptiste's quieter and more reflective solo sectionthe track also highlights Sophie Alloway's dynamic drumming. "La Parenthese Enchantée" showcases Régert's acoustic classical guitar and Jim Knight's alto sax, the coolly funky "Beat The Beast" gives Knight another strong solo spot and "Maybe...Maybe Not"a sextet number with Knight, Flowers and percussionist Will Fry joining the core triofeatures Régert's fluid and considered electric guitar. "Risky Business" features harmonica player Adam Glasser. It's his only appearance but he leaves a lasting impression with some fine, lyrical and melodic phrasing.
Of the two covers, "Paint It Black" works best, with Mary Pearce's vocals crucial to its success. There's also a wild synth solo from Carl Hudson which is great fun (even if it seems a bit anachronistic) and some equally wild flourishes from Régert and trumpeter Flowers. Organist Noble wrote "Herman's Hoedown," an upbeat groover that brings Life Stories to a cheerful and positive close.
Track Listing: Life Stories Intro; Better Remorse Than Regret; Paint It Black; La Parenthese Enchantée; Beat The Beast; Mommy
Is In The Sky; Risky Business; Bravid; Another Brick In The Wall; Maybe…Maybe Not; Herman’s Hoedown.
Personnel: Clément Régert: guitars; Andrew Noble: Hammond organ; Graeme Flowers: trumpet; Will Fry: percussion; Sophie
Alloway: drums; Mary Pearce: vocals (3, 6); Carl Hudson: synthesizers (3, 9); Jim Knight: alto saxophone (1, 4, 5, 7,
10, 11); Denys Baptiste: tenor saxophone (2, 3, 6, 8) Alistair White: trombone (2, 3, 6, 8, 9); Adam Glasser: