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Escape Hatch: Roots Of Unity

Roger Farbey By

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Tempting though it is to bag Escape Hatch as pianist Ivo Neame's new group, in truth it's more democratic than that; for one thing the majority of the compositions weren't written by him. Two thirds were penned by bassist Andrea Di Biase, who along with drummer Dave Hamblett have regularly accompanied Neame on his recordings such as 2015's Strata. Another reason is that a fair bit of the limelight is taken by guest saxophone virtuoso Julian Arguelles who has been treading the boards professionally for over thirty years and is an erstwhile member of the late-lamented, although recently revived, Loose Tubes big band.

There's a slightly fractured quality to some of the compositions, as diverse sections are meticulously knitted together. The languid beginning to "Hysterical Revisionism" for example, cedes within a few bars to a tightly melodic, labyrinthine section. On "Moonbathing," the staccato opening piano trio section gives way to a saxophone- led, relaxed feel. This mood is maintained with "Today, Tomorrow, Never" here with Arguelles soloing piquantly on soprano saxophone.

Arguelle's presence isn't felt on all tracks though. He's absent on Di Biase's title track, the short "History Repeating," Neame's tranquil "Resignation," "Dust And Moonlight" and "Common Multiple," essentially the final 14 minutes of this recording, which is just under an hour in length. There's a lot of warmth to this album but it's warmer still when Arguelles is contributing. Throughout there's a holistic feel to these compositions, all of which are sensitively imbued with depth and emotion.

Track Listing: Hysterical Revisionism; La Strega; Roots of Unity; Moonbathing; Today, Tomorrow, Never; History Repeating; Resignation; Dust and Moonlight; Common Multiple.

Personnel: Ivo Neame: piano; Andrea Di Biase: bass; Dave Hamblett: drums plus guest Julian Argüelles: saxophones.

Title: Roots Of Unity | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings Ltd

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