250

Liam Noble: Romance Among The Fishes

By

Sign in to view read count
If some of the commentary in the jazz press is to be believed, it can only be a matter of time before European jazz musicians sail up the Potomac to burn Washington again. Jazz in America, so the thesis goes, is dead. The baton has been passed to Europe.

Such ideas would presumably be quite puzzling to the musicians on Romance Among the Fishes. This group, under the leadership of British pianist Liam Noble, was put together for a performance at the 2004 Cheltenham Jazz Festival (typical of the visionary programming of director Tony Dudley Evans). Phil Robson, a leading UK guitarist in his own bands, Partisans, and with Christine Tobin, is Noble's front-line partner. The US contingent is provided by the crack rhythm team of Tom Rainey and Drew Gress.

Liam Noble has been a regular feature of many of the bands touring Britain since the early 1990s. His excellent 2003 recording In the Meantime, with such luminaries as Stan Sulzmann and Chris Biscoe, served notice of a distinctive compositional talent. Romance Among The Fishes should bring his music to a much wider audience.

The cover pictures an aquarium of illuminated fishes, an image that fits perfectly with some of the slower pieces. Most of the material has been composed by Noble, generally quite terse themes that provide knotty jump-off points for the improvisations. Just as in a fish tank a variety of fishes can be seen moving in contrary directions, yet give a sense of common movement, so all four musicians follow highly independent paths, whilst obeying the general direction of the composed music. The opening "Jitters" is built around a pentatonic theme, reminiscent of Debussy in his more Eastern-influenced piano music, though at a cracking pace. "Therapy" is more dreamy, with a beautifully melodic bass solo from Gress and striking solos from Robson and Noble. Three tracks appear to be virtually free improvisations, setting up short duets.

Though in constant flux, this is far from a wild recording, having more in common with the music of Jimmy Giuffre or Lee Konitz. The musicians are not afraid to leave space between the notes, helping to establish a watery, floating feel. Especially impressive in this respect is the concluding title track, where Robson's guitar is rich in reverb, sounding almost Cuban in texture. The faintly out-of-synch wooziness of the track sums up Noble's musical approach, avoiding clear-cut, finished phrases.

The artificial divisions set up between "European" and "American" jazz are blown apart by carefully crafted collaborations like Romance Among The Fishes. Where the fusion of Ken Vandermark with Norway's Atomic explores the fiery side of jazz, this four-way collaboration investigates a cooler but no less fascinating aspect.

All praise too to Basho Music, rapidly emerging as one of the UK's most dynamic organisations in promoting and recording contemporary jazz.


Track Listing: Jitters; Therapy; Enchante; Bunker; A Broken Dream; Bluebear; Where do they go; Regular Intervals; The Butterflies; Romance Among the Fishes.

Personnel: Liam Noble: piano; Phil Robson: guitar; Drew Gress: double bass; Tom Rainey: drums.

Title: Romance Among The Fishes | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Basho Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jazz Flute Traditions CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Flute Traditions
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Nerve Dance CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "Ma De Re Sha" CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Here on Earth" CD/LP/Track Review Here on Earth
by Doug Collette
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming" CD/LP/Track Review I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "Genesis" CD/LP/Track Review Genesis
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 4, 2016
Read "Vars & Kaper:Deconstruction" CD/LP/Track Review Vars & Kaper:Deconstruction
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 29, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.