It's a question that's puzzled and divided jazz fans and critics alike, since before Louis Armstrong
left New Orleans. There's been no sign of resolution and the dissent continues as the jazz world wrestles with this thorniest of debates. Just what is the best-est dinosaur ever
? The music on this self-titled debut provides the answerit's the Quadraceratops
This particular Quadraceratops is a London-based septet led by alto saxophonist and composer Cath Roberts
, who brought the band together in 2011. As befits a band named after a dinosaur (albeit an imaginary one), the full-on Quadraceratops can rattle the rafters with the best of them. Imagine Woody Herman
's Thundering Herd if it was a herd of four-horned monsters. It has its softer moments, too: tunes often begin relatively sedately, just one or two instruments, before the band opens up.
"Dinner With Patrick" opens quietly, Dave O'Brien
's Rhodes and a couple of bars from the horns suggesting that something akin to Miles Davis
' Birth Of The Cool
might be on its way. Once the rhythm section kicks inOlly Blackman
's piledriving drum beat at its heartthings get stranger and louder. There's a cheeky sense of humor at work here, as well as a keen sense of dynamics. If it sounds like the dinner is not going too well, that may be because the titular Patrick is Patrick Bateman, anti-hero of Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho
Quadraceratops doesn't just do loud or strange. It's quite capable of laying down a hypnotic groove ("Song For The Worker Bee," the insinuating riff of "Chair-O-Planes"), crafting a gentle ballad ("Spiderling," featuring O'Brien on piano) or mixing quiet, almost introspective, ensemble passages with Henry Spencer
's free-blowing trumpet ("Calico," the name of Roberts' cat). Roberts' compositions give plenty of space for solosthe prog-inspired "Flying South" serves as a foundation for a range of solos including those of bassist Jason Simpson and trombonist Magnus Dearness
There's a lovely "home-made" feel to the album's rather tactile covera simple black print on rough grey card, produced by Roberts herselfwhich shows the Quadraceratops to be a cheerful, friendly beast. It's a musically adventurous one as well, with the power and talent to realize that adventurous streak.
Dinner With Patrick; Song For The Worker Bee; Chair-O-Planes; Open Sandwich; Spiderling; Calico; Flying South.
Cath Roberts: alto saxophone; Tom Ward: tenor saxophone; Henry Spencer: trumpet; Magnus Dearness: trombone; Dave O'Brien: Fender Rhodes, piano; Jason Simpson: double bass; Olly Blackman: drums.