You can judge a book by its cover, and likewise an album. Sometimes. Too often, striking content fails to follow striking packaging. British keyboard player Rebecca Nash's Peaceful King, however, proves to be as beautiful as its artwork and graphic design. It joins a handful of other more or less recent, promise-fulfilling albums, from which Binker and Moses' Journey To The Mountain Of Forever (Gearbox, 2017), Jon Hassell's Listening To Pictures: Pentimento Volume One (Ndeya, 2018) and Theon Cross' Fyah (Gearbox, 2019) spring to mind. Peaceful King is not quite as immaculately realised as those albums. It is, after all, Nash's own-name debut. But on it, she demonstrates enough clarity of vision to suggest the follow-up may be properly lofty.
Peaceful King actually came out during summer 2019, but somehow slipped under the radar or, more literally, under a pile of other discs. On it, Nash leads her Atlas quintet, augmented on three tracks by singer Sara Colman and trumpeter Nick Walters (here contributing electronics only). The music is an elegant blend of modal jazz, soul jazz, electronica and 1970s fusion with an occasional dash of rock. It is reminiscent at times of British-Bahraini trumpeter Yazz Ahmed's Polyhymnia (Ropeadope, 2019), which was another finely judged mixture of mainly-electric keyboards, electronica and trumpet with, like Peaceful King, one foot in Miles Davis' In A Silent Way (CBS, 1969).
What's not to like? Well, the three with-vocals tracks may not be to everyone's taste. You may find their melodies and Colman's style a bit folksy. Or you may not. Anyway, they do not dominate the tracks in question, much less the album as a whole, and otherwise the disc delivers what it says on the tin (the work, by the way, of Ning-Ning Li and Monika S. Jakubowska).
Peaceful King; Tumbleweed; Hot Wired; Grace; Dreamer; Lokma; Little Light; Inishbofin.
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