Bassist and composer Misha Mullov-Abbado may be a new name on the UK scene but he's already won the 2014 Dankworth Prize for jazz composition and was a 2014 City Of Music Foundation Artist. The 2014 Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize also came his way, with the release of debut recording New Ansonia forming part of that award.
Mullov-Abbado may still be a relative youngster, but his upbringing ensured a wide exposure to music from an early age and he brings that already extensive knowledge to his writing and playing. His father was the late Italian conductor Claudio Abbado, his mother is violinist Viktoria Mullova (who guests on "Heal Me On This Cloudy Day" which Mullov-Abbado wrote for his father's funeral).
There's just one cover tune on this debut: a cheeky re-working of disco classic "September." It's interesting and enjoyable but the sheer unalloyed fun of the Earth, Wind and Fire original doesn't quite translate: it's not as easy to dance to either. Mullov-Abbado's own tunes cover a broad stylistic range. At one extreme there's an almost mystical quality to the flowing melody of "Circle Song," a tune whose gentle forward motion establishes the optimism and positivity of the album as a whole. At the other "Lock, Stock & Shuffle" takes inspiration from straight-ahead jazz, an upbeat number with another memorable melody line and Matthew Herd's wailing alto solo at its heart. "Ode To King Michael" is a melting-pot of styleseverything from big band swing to Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band anarchy to a spot of Loose Tubes wildness and some church bells. Marvellous.
Mullov-Abbado's knack for a snappy title is evident, especially in "Satan, Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas." Admittedly he's not the first to use the palindromeSoundgarden is probably the most notable previous userbut let's give him credit for bringing it to the world of jazz. It's the album's most contemporary-sounding tune and also, at times, one of its prettiest.
The valedictory "Heal Me On This Cloudy Day" is, not unexpectedly, sombre: but the beauty of the composition and the quality of each musician's contribution, especially Tom Green on trombone and guests Mullova and Matthew Barley on strings, still make this a tune filled with positivity.
Closing track "Just Another Love Song" seems to lack the energy of earlier tunesdespite Green's fine trombone work. It's a slightly disappointing way to end New Ansonia, but the album contains plenty of signs of Mullov-Abbado's abilities and signals the presence of another exciting jazz talent.
Circle Song; Lock, Stock & Shuffle; Real Eyes Realise Real Lies; New Ansonia; Satan, Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas; Ode To King Michael; Heal Me On This Cloudy Day; September; Just Another Love Song.
Misha Mullov-Abbado: double bass; Matthew Herd: alto saxophone; Tom Green: trombone; Jacob Collier: piano; Scott Chapman: drums; James Davison: trumpet, flugelhorn (3, 4); Nick Goodwin: guitar (4, 5); Viktoria Mullova: violin (7); Matthew Barley: cello (7).
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