416

Polar Bear: Peepers

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Polar Bear: Peepers Polar Bear, led by Scottish percussionist and composer Seb Rochford, has been a major creative force since its formation in 2003. The band has extended its popularity beyond the narrow borders of the jazz scene, has been a strong influence on the new wave of young British jazz musicians, and has journalists reaching enthusiastically for categories into which it can be neatly slotted. Readily defying attempts to be pigeonholed, Peepers—the band's fourth album—is a stunningly enjoyable collection by one of the most talented, adaptable and surprising groups in jazz. Its 12 tracks demonstrate the breadth of Rochford's writing, as well as the ease with which the musicians can move between moods and styles. By turns the tunes are joyous, funky, freeform, sad, mysterious and, frankly, a bit scary.

The album begins in joyous mood, with "Happy for You," written to celebrate the arrival of saxophonist Pete Wareham's newborn baby. This mood continues through "Bap, Bap, Bap," with a deceptively simple staccato sax line that starts, unsurprisingly, with the twin tenors of Wareham and Mark Lockheart going "Bap, Bap, Bap." "Hope Every Day is a Happy New Year" finds Rochford seemingly hitting everything in the studio, while Leafcutter John adds some springy and uplifting effects as bassist Tom Herbert holds it all together. "The Love Didn't Go Anywhere" brings a more sombre mood with its beautifully atmospheric but unrelentingly sad tenor duet. The scariness comes mainly from two short improvisations, "Bump" and "Scream," both of which are credited as group compositions.

The more mysterious aspects of Peepers are found on "Want to Believe Everything"—with its wonderfully loose groove, courtesy of Rochford—and the strange and wonderful "Finding Our Feet," whose Middle Eastern vibe comes from Leafcutter John's sampled and altered vocals. Both tunes have a timeless and otherworldly quality to them.

Previous Polar Bear albums have augmented the quintet with guest instrumentalists and singers; Peepers needs no such augmentation. Rochford's imaginative compositions are driven admirably by his bandmates, whose shared musical understanding enabled the entire album to be recorded in two sessions, with a real feeling of spontaneity and pleasure. Peepers is the finest Polar Bear album yet, which makes it a very fine recording indeed.

Track Listing: Happy for You; Bap Bap Bap; Drunken Pharaoh; The Love Didn't Go Anywhere; A New Morning Will Come; Peepers; Bump; Scream; Hope Every Day is a Happy New Year; Want to Believe Everything; Finding our Feet; All Here.

Personnel: Pete Wareham: tenor sax; Mark Lockheart: tenor sax; Tom Herbert: double-bass; Leafcutter John: electronics, guitar; Sebastian Rochford: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: The Leaf Label | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Pathways CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Landing CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Words And Music CD/LP/Track Review Words And Music
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Faces CD/LP/Track Review Faces
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Petite Afrique CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Moon Trio: Earth-Time" CD/LP/Track Review Moon Trio: Earth-Time
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Dyad Plays Jazz Arias" CD/LP/Track Review Dyad Plays Jazz Arias
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 12, 2016
Read "Hybrido" CD/LP/Track Review Hybrido
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Akustik InventYours" CD/LP/Track Review Akustik InventYours
by Tyran Grillo
Published: May 3, 2016
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 31, 2016
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!