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The Kevin Brady Electric Quartet: Plan B

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The Kevin Brady Electric Quartet: Plan B
Plan A, which is to say, leading his own acoustic band, has worked pretty well for Irish drummer Kevin Brady. A number of fine small ensemble recordings—with Ensam (Lpr Music, 2016) perhaps the pick of the bunch—has seen him marshal talents such as Bill Carrothers and Norma Winstone, touring the world in the process. With Plan B Brady plugs in and rocks out, taking wing on the back of 1970s-era Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. It is not entirely new terrain for the Dublin sticksman, as he and bassist Dave Redmond played in a blistering electric trio with the late Larry Coryell, documented on the excellent Larry Coryell's Last Swing With Ireland (Angel Air, 2021).

Redmond and Brady's deep-rooted chemistry is built on long years of collaboration, and they drive this session with incombustible energy. Keyboardist Bill Carrothers—the other long-time member of Brady's trio—and saxophonist Seamus Blake, who had previously toured Ireland in Tommy Halferty's quartet with Brady and Redmond, are given generous scope to solo on originals that follow a head-solo-solo-head template. While the formula may be largely unwavering, Brady's compositions boast real character, with motifs and grooves that waste no time in sinking their talons deeply.

Brady's visceral polyrhythms and Redmond's lithe grooves are at the heart of energetic fare like "Airbourne" and "Suicide Squeeze," propelling Carrothers and Blake into gutsy improvisations. Jazz-fusion it may be, but Brady's music also harbours alluring finesse, such as the way Carrothers' pulsing intro on the Wayne Shorter-esque "Spindletop" passes to the bass, or in the constant array of orchestral colors that Carrothers' Fender Rhodes supplies, in much the understated yet telling way that Gil Goldstein did on Pat Martino's We'll Be Together Again (Warner Bros. 1976).

The push and pull of contrasting tempi on the title track—where Blake's boppish, yet ever-melodic bustle plays out against a languid rhythmic stroll—exert hypnotic tension, while "Quiet Beach," for much of the course a keening ballad, sees the British-born, Canadian saxophonist cut loose in the final furlong, though not at the expense of emotive heft. The dreamy melody that opens "Short 'n' Sweet" is something of a sheep in wolf's clothing, as the shackles soon fall away to unleash the quartet on a pulsating course, punctuated by burrowing solos from Blake and Carrothers.

Whilst there is no shortage of striking interventions from the saxophonist and keyboardist, the music is defined just as much by its melodious core. The ballad, "Wanderlust," may stand out for its more relaxed tempo, but its mellifluous arc and flowing melodic improvisations are consistent with Brady's vision as a whole.

On this compelling electro-acoustic outing Brady demonstrates clear appetite for the more visceral end of the jazz spectrum. Strong tunes and uniformly great playing make for a highly satisfying outcome. There is no reason Brady cannot juggle plan A and plan B, but regardless of the direction he pursues, Brady is indeed a man with plans.

Track Listing

Airbourne, Plan B, Short 'n' Sweet, Spindle Top, Quiet Beach, Out of the Blue, Wanderlust, Suicide Squeeze.

Personnel

Kevin Brady: drums; Bill Carrothers: piano; Seamus Blake: saxophone, tenor; Dave Redmond: bass.

Album information

Title: Plan B | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Ubuntu Music

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