Jazz violinists' role models tend to follow a familiar continuum that runs roughly from Stuff Smith
and Stephane Grappelli
to Jean Luc Ponty and Didier Lockwood
. British violinist/singer Dominic Ingham, however, paddles his own canoe. With a technique that draws as much from his folk and classical upbringing as it does from jazz, Ingham's idiom is a personal one. As Ingham explains in the press release, the role models in question on this, his debut as leader, are the members of his new band: vibraphonist Johnny Mansfield
; pianist David Swan
, double bassist Will Sachs and drummer Boz Martin-Jones. He adds that these eight originals are inspired by contemporary artists such as Ambrose Akinmusire, Walter Smith III
and Camilla Meza
further indication that his gaze is fixed very much on the present.
Folk, classical and jazz bind in compelling fashion on the title track. Sachs' punchy bass mantra and Martin-Jones' lively drumming form a rhythmically propulsive framework for Ingham's dancing solo, while piano and vibraphone lend chamber undertones. The beautiful melody of the gently padding "Fall"relayed by vibraphone, violin and Ingham's gently caressing wordless singingprovides the starting point for refined yet emotive solos from Ingham and Mansfield. This is arguably the album's standout track, the melody being of the sort that lodges stubbornly in your head.
Ingham's penchant for simple, catchy motifs and engaging grooves is evident once again on "Pj's." Martin-Jones' snappy snare-cum-rim patterns and his insistent bass drum pulse course through this composition of skeletal lyricismwith Ingham's playing, like the accompaniment, light in tone yet uplifting. The wintery impressionism of Swan's solo piano piece, "Intro to Phones," gives way to jagged angularity before the kernel of a motif emerges, segueing into the buoyant "Phones." Vibraphone and violin dance the head in unison, before Ingham, and then Mansfield stretch out, the latter picking up the former's energy and then some.
Ingham gradually steers "Daydreaming" from its mellow opening of soft mallets and spare rhythmic punctuation, into more animated pastures. His unhurried, lyrical playing serves as a stepping stone to Mansfield's more expansive solo, the music swelling in response to the vibraphonist's searching run. Skittering brushes and a baroque rhythmic undercurrent color "Bottles," an elegant tune of subtly rising-falling contours with an explosive, vibraphone-led mid-section that tapers to a bustling drum feature. Bristling rhythms drive Ingham and Mansfield's to-and-fro dialog on the feisty "Passport," which closes the album on an energetic high note.
An accomplished debut, Role Models
propels Ingham into the ranks of young leaders who are writing an exciting chapter in contemporary UK jazz history. A fine violinist, and a writer of some maturity, Ingham has laid strong foundations upon which to build. A name to watch out for.
Role Models; Fall; Pj's; Intro To Phones; Phones; Daydreaming; Bottles; Passport.
Dominic Ingham: vocals (2).