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Tom Bancroft's In Common: Love & Stillness

Roger Farbey By

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A qualified medical doctor and highly experienced jazz musician, Tom Bancroft is co-leader of the bass-less Trio AAB and leads the big band Orchestro Interrupto. He studied drums with Joe Morello, Joey Baron, and Andrew Cyrille, and has played with a host of renowned jazz stars including Sun Ra, Charlie Mariano, Oliver Lake, and Sheila Jordan. In addition to his percussive prowess, Bancroft studied music in Africa and India, so he is uniquely equipped to compose the type of hybrid tunes found on Love & Stillness. He has created something extraordinary here. An off-the-wall record to be sure, it is less Indo-Jazz fusion than the late '60s/early '70s London band Quintessence, which espoused the rather niche genre "raga rock."

"Goodbye Hello" is more prog/jazz, benefitting from guitarist Graeme Stephen regularly taking center stage. "Somehow Something" injects esotericism into the mix with a tanpura sample, an instrument similar to a sitar but which only plays a drone (live tanpura players are apparently something of a rarity, even in India). There is even more to discover on this record, such as the guitar/violin duet "Duo/Donald" or "Willie, And His Dog" happily channelling John McLaughlin's timeless masterpiece My Goal's Beyond (Douglas, 1971). The semi-chanting vocals on "The Burnin O Auchindoon" are almost post-punkesque but mollified by tabla and violin, the pulse progressing into a hypnotic beat before a solo voice transforms it into folk-meets-raga. Another duet on the self-explanatory "Bodhran & Tabla" leads into the title track. Here, Delhi-based Sharat Chandra Srivastava adds serpentine violin lines accompanied by tabla, placing the piece simultaneously in the Indian sub-continent and the European folk idiom.

The two-part "Flower Child" is a surprisingly successful marriage of folk and jazz. Chandra Srivastava's violin dominates "Part 1," followed by heavier electric guitar contributions from Stephen accompanied by more breathtaking violin on "Part 2." "Nette Ball" could take the prize for a model of idiosyncrasy, starting out in pure vocal bebop mode but then incorporating tabla, drum, and guitar interjections amongst the scat. Plentiful raga-like extemporization marks "18," with guitar and violin gradually melding together before fading out. "Flower Child 2b" is a short, limpid ending to a truly intriguing seventy minutes of mellifluous music.

Track Listing: Somehow Something; Goodbye Hello; Duo / Donald, Willie, And His Dog; Solo; The Burnin O Auchindoon; Bodhran & Tabla; Love & Stillness; Drums & Tabla; Flower Child 1; Flower Child 2; Nette Ball; 18; Flower Child 2b.

Personnel: Tom Bancroft: drums, bodhran; Sharat Chandra Srivataa: violin; Graeme Stephen: guitar; Gyan Singh: tabla; Sophie Bancroft; Gina Rae; Inge Thomson: voice plus Michael Owers (7): brass; Tom Lyne (10): bass.

Title: Love & Stillness | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Interrupto Music

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