Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

376

Julian Siegel Trio: Live At The Vortex

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
He may or may not be "mad, bad and dangerous to know," as a female contemporary famously described the 19th century poet Lord Byron, but there is something distinctly Byronic about British reeds player Julian Siegel. His cascading curls (an early nickname was Wig), penchant for black clothing, and the intense lyricism of his playing combine to suggest a latter day Romantic, striving to find beauty in an often ugly world.

Siegel's first instrument is the tenor saxophone, though the bass clarinet comes a close second, and with Live At The Vortex, a double CD recorded over two nights at the north London jazz club, he's produced one of the two most absorbing reeds albums of the first half of 2009, the other being saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock's Sleepthief (Intakt, 2009). Laubrock's disc explores the outer limits of timbral invention and free improvisation, boldly going where neither man nor woman has gone so completely before; Siegel's set is of similar weight, within its more structured and in-the-tradition parameters.

Since 2001, with guitarist Phil Robson, Siegel has co-led London's in-your-face, post-electric Miles Davis band the Partisans, while developing a simultaneous career as an acoustic band leader and featured soloist. In addition to Laubrock, the other leading lights of British and European jazz Siegel has worked with include keyboard player Django Bates, pianists John Taylor and Gwilym Simcock, and trumpeter and flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler. Not before time, Siegel was recognized by the annual BBC Jazz Awards when he won the 2007 prize for Best Instrumentalist.

Live At The Vortex finds Siegel in the company of two equally distinguished American musicians—bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Joey Baron. Cohen includes work with saxophonist Ornette Coleman, trumpeter Dave Douglas and singer Tom Waits among his varied curriculum vitae. New York downtown luminary Baron worked alongside Cohen with reed player Ken Vandermark.

The trio was unveiled at Britain's 2006 Cheltenham International Jazz Festival, and has since toured the UK twice, most recently in January 2009. And it cooks. Most of Live At The Vortex is up-tempo and gritty. Cohen and Baron are adepts of "intelligent groove"—keeping things throbbing while also evolving—and they lift Siegel, who's clearly having a ball, into torrents of invention. His tenor, by turns full-throated and velvet, roughly multiphonic and caressing, is mesmerizing from start to finish, and particularly so on "Atlantic," "Wigsworld" and "Stop Go Man."

All but two of the tunes were written by Siegel. The covers are Rudy Toombs' "One Mint Julep," which closes disc two, and Burt Bacharach's "Alfie." The latter is the bass clarinet highlight of the set, an entrancing dissection of the familiar tune, in which Siegel unpicks the inner harmonies with forensic precision, reassembling the melody over Cohen's spectral ostinato and Baron's singing cymbals.

Utterly compelling from start to finish, and superbly recorded, Live At The Vortex is as good as it gets.

Track Listing: CD1: Atlantic; Wigsworld; Alfie; Stop Go Man; Night At The Opera. CD2: Incantation #1; M.A.B.; Haunted Waltz; Sandpit; One Mint Julep.

Personnel: Julian Siegel: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Greg Cohen: double-bass; Joey Baron: drums.

Title: Live At The Vortex | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Basho Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live at Pyatt Hall CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Flying Heart CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Solano Canyon CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Reflections" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: March 11, 2017
Read "Beauty And the Beast" CD/LP/Track Review Beauty And the Beast
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "Slade Alive!" CD/LP/Track Review Slade Alive!
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "The Spirit Of Piteşti" CD/LP/Track Review The Spirit Of Piteşti
by John Sharpe
Published: October 25, 2017
Read "Caipi" CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "The Motorman's Son" CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017