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Wild Card: Life Stories

Mike Jurkovic By

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Two things I'll readily admit about Clement Regert's Wild Card and its new offering, Life Stories are: 1—wild isn't the right adjective. A more fitting descriptor is fearless, because this feverish ensemble isn't afraid to bring on the funk, the bop, the pop, the swing or Afro-Blue when they want to; and 2—the spoken word "Intro," even if they are words used by Martin Luther King, Jr., comes off as a sort of jazz manifesto, which isn't necessary given the vibrant music that follows it.

Having mentioned fearless to better describe guitarist/composer Regert and his assembled band of high flying swingers—organist Andrew Noble, Denys Baptiste-tenor sax; keyboardist Carl Hudson; Adam Glasser on harmonica; trumpeter Graeme Flowers; Jim Knight on alto sax; drummer Sophie Alloway; percussionist Will Fry; trombonist Alistair White and vocalist Mary Pearce—all hold their highlights within a tight band structure.

Recorded live with few overdubs, Life Stories is the kind of recorded statement all musicians hope for but few attain. "La Parentese Enchantee" will, for the New Worlders' listening, conjure visions of the Allman Brothers Band with drummer Alloway doing double time shuffle while Regert's calliographic soloing and Noble's burbling organ push the tune higher and higher. "Beat the Beast" is a hunk of chunky-funk, full brass blowout, making two rock n roll icons their own by taking on The Stone's mid-Sixties "Paint It, Black" (Pearce and Noble shine here) and Pink Floyd's dark anthem, "Another Brick In The Wall" setting both songs joyfully free from the rock n roll mausoleum of classic rock. But Wild Card has its softer moments, as brilliantly exhibited on the Regert composed "Better Remorse Than Regret" and the lilting reminiscence "Mommy Is In The Sky" wherein Pearce holds forth delicately, while trumpet and alto sax ballet softly. "Bravid" is another energetic, unapologetic hybrid of funk, fusion, and irrepressible swing.

Beautifully produced and arranged for each player to shine, Life Stories will hopefully garner for Clement Regert and his Wild Card the attention and listening audience it deserves. A fine, fine work from a group of musicians who understand that music and imagination knows no limits.

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: harmonica (7).

Title: Life Stories | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Top End Records

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