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.

14

Zhenya Strigalev: Never Group

Roger Farbey By

Sign in to view read count
Tim Lefebvre was the last bassist to record with David Bowie. He's featured on Blackstar, arguably Bowie's best and certainly most poignant album. Drummer Eric Harland has recorded with Charles Lloyd's Quartet, Dave Holland, Joshua Redman and McCoy Tyner. These two musicians form the essential backbone of Russian-born, London-based alto saxophonist Zhenya Strigalev's trio who dominate this seventy three minute recording. Guest Bruno Liberda on electronics is not a jazz musician but a composer and academic and plays on four tracks he co-wrote with Strigalev. There are additional small cameos from Matt Penman on double bass, John Escreet on keyboards and Alex Bonney on trumpet.

Strigalev has assembled twenty, mainly short, tracks with one or two longer pieces recorded in Berlin in 2015. The parodical intro sets the tone for the ensuing nineteen numbers and although it's easy to misinterpret this as comedy music, it most decidedly isn't. This opening track, a pastiche of a BBC type announcer describing the music, is also not a million miles from the spoken introduction to Captain Beefheart's "Yellow Brick Road" from his Safe As Milk album. Whilst there is a playful Zappa-esque edge to the set, there's also more than a hint of electric-period Ornette Coleman. "Bio Active" for example follows this line with electric bass and drums underpinning the bluesy, wailing alto saxophone and so it is with "Strange Party," "Second Hand" and "Hot Exactly."

Some of the relatively more conventional tracks include the likes of "Some Thomas" which could easily be (mis)interpreted as a bizarre yet ebullient deconstruction of Sonny Rollins's "St Thomas." There are however also some electrifyingly killer takes, commencing with "Strange Party (Coda 2)," a dynamite-infused bass and drums wig out. Harland and Lefevre take credit for seven of these largely improvised tracks, all of which are identified by a parenthetic coda number and all of which share similarly high intensity performances. The electronically speeded-up "Reading Shakespeare" sports a tantalisingly familiar classical quote. The short pieces "Bassgeingengeister," "Plasticksackerl Im Wind" and "Heimwehharfe" feature Liberda and Strigalev, Liberda's electronics adding a surreal yet vital element to the mix.

Whilst it's true that the seven "Coda" pieces have a tendency to break-up the overall consistency of the album, taken as a whole, the twenty tracks form an addictive mix of colourful vignettes which oscillate from the plaintive missives of Albert Ayler to the more strident, electrifying tones of say, Steve Coleman's M-Base recordings. On the basis of this excellent recording, and in direct contradiction to the album's title, Strigalev's group could well be the next big thing in jazz.

Track Listing: I Messed Up At The End Of My Solo (Intro); Bio Active; Not Upset (coda 1); Bassgeingengeister; Some Thomas; Strange Party (coda 2); Plastiksackerl Im Wind; Little Struggle (coda 3); Strange Party; Reading Shakespeare; Second Hand; Heimwehharfe; Snail; Reading Shakespeare (coda 4); Hot Exactly; Strange Party (coda 5); Not Upset (coda 6); Are you Manageable?; The Slow Rub; Not Upset (coda 7).

Personnel: Zhenya Strigalev: alto saxophone; Tim Lefebvre: electric bass; Eric Harland: drums; Plus guests: Bruno Liberda: electronics; Matt Penman: double bass; John Escreet: keyboards; Alex Bonney: trumpet; Charles Armstrong: voice intro.

Title: Never Group | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings Ltd

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

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 D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Upright Piano - Live At Bar Moskus" CD/LP/Track Review Upright Piano - Live At Bar Moskus
by Jim Worsley
Published: December 25, 2017
Read "The Attic" CD/LP/Track Review The Attic
by John Sharpe
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "UpRoot" CD/LP/Track Review UpRoot
by David Rocheleau-Houle
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "Langen ro" CD/LP/Track Review Langen ro
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 8, 2017
Read "Green Moss Black Sand" CD/LP/Track Review Green Moss Black Sand
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 30, 2017
Read "WashAshore" CD/LP/Track Review WashAshore
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 30, 2017