All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Extended Analysis

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

44

Roller Trio: Roller Trio: Fracture

Phil Barnes By

Sign in to view read count
Fracture is an intriguing title for this follow up record to Roller Trio's eponymous Mercury nominated debut from 2012. Recent interview comments spoke of how little that nomination changed their financial situation, so it is tempting to read the title as a reference to the band's relationship with the music industry—after all the album is also their first on their own Lamplight Social label rather than F-ire who handled them previously. Or is the title intended to be a more literal nod to the broken hand that saxophonist James Mainwaring suffered just as they were about to play in the European Broadcast Union Jazz Competition finals in summer 2014? The BBC broadcast that concert and while the injury clearly changed Mainwaring's playing it remained a fine performance. Indeed Mainwaring has latterly felt able to put a brave face on using limitations to shape the band sound, commenting that "I like to use constraints... that makes the music that you produce narrower and that automatically gives it a certain sound...."

Virtue from necessity or not melodic fragments, motifs and riffs are splintered across the wider collection, the melody bringing you in, the constant shifts in the music simultaneously pushing you away—neatly avoiding any accusations of predictability. Initially this can feel like the aural equivalent of Burroughs' "cut up method," but given time the parts cohere to reveal a far more satisfying record than their much garlanded debut. The musicians sound more together stylistically too—able to integrate their different influences into a single music rather than each member trying to lead on particular tracks as on the debut. The much improved production also helps, a clear step up from the debut that was apparently intended to be little more than a collection of demos to sell at gigs.

So a track like "Two Minutes" twists and turns through funk and hard rock shapes , tension being released in lengthier sax bursts from James Mainwaring, but is immediately followed by the near trip hop ambience of "Tracer" which is a sort of jazz collision with Massive Attack or, perhaps more accurately, Jose Padilla or James Lavelle. "Mango" is more leftfield; the oblique percussion in the middle section making the composition feel like it almost folds in on itself as the initial funk rock gives way to a near ambient sax solo over Luke Wynter's heavily reverbed guitar. "Tightrope" too combines heavily effect laden guitar with Mainwaring's sax which using its higher registers has something of a pleading, pained, quality that is highly effective.

The lightness of this oblique funkiness is also a step forward from the debut—opening track "Reef Knot" being a good example in the way that the light intricately rhythmic guitar riff is taken forward with a repetitive horn line before its rhythm dissolves in what initially feels like a glitch but then moves into an engaging circular sax riff. The tension built in this segment is then rapidly released before a more straightforward guitar rhythm emerges ending up in jazz rock territory.

This ability to blend the accessible and the serious, the melodic and the experimental is a real gift that Roller Trio have down pat here—a tune like "Low Tide" is just begging to be used as the soundtrack to a cold war thriller, yet through the switching of sections still manages to allow the band opportunity for both self-expression and musical exploration. Even the admirable "High Tea," which is about as free as things get here, alternates oblique sections that build tension with a melodic release safety valve.

There's a great quote from soul singer Cissy Houston that's relevant here, where she talks about music as ..."a living, breathing thing—you have to understand that it will push and change itself, just to survive... it's going to change right along with what's going down in your life...." Roller Trio have had a fascinating couple of years that can arguably be heard in this great album—"Fracture" is a clear step forward from the promise of their debut and suggests that they will be with us for some time to come. Highly recommended.

Track Listing: 1. Reef Knot; 2. Doris; 3. Low Tide; 4. High Tea; 5. 2 Minutes to 12; 6. Tracer; 7. Splinter; 8. Mango; 9. Three Pea Soup; 10. Tightrope.

Personnel: James Mainwaring: saxophones, fx; Luke Wynter: guitar, fx, bass; Luke Reddin-Williams: drums.

Title: Roller Trio: Fracture | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Greatest Other People's Hits Extended Analysis
Greatest Other People's Hits
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2018
Read Heavy Music - The Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967 Extended Analysis
Heavy Music - The Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967
by Doug Collette
Published: September 8, 2018
Read Naima/Live in Berlin Extended Analysis
Naima/Live in Berlin
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 30, 2018
Read Kaya 40 Extended Analysis
Kaya 40
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 25, 2018
Read Anthem Of The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Extended Analysis
Anthem Of The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: August 4, 2018
Read Wodgi Extended Analysis
Wodgi
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 4, 2018
Read "Kaya 40" Extended Analysis Kaya 40
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 25, 2018
Read "The Vintage Years 1970 - 1991" Extended Analysis The Vintage Years 1970 - 1991
by John Kelman
Published: June 23, 2018
Read "Wodgi" Extended Analysis Wodgi
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 4, 2018
Read "In Memory of Lou Gare" Extended Analysis In Memory of Lou Gare
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 3, 2018
Read "The Last Night At The Old Place" Extended Analysis The Last Night At The Old Place
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 1, 2018
Read "Naima/Live in Berlin" Extended Analysis Naima/Live in Berlin
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 30, 2018