278

Phil Robson: Six Strings & The Beat

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Phil Robson: Six Strings & The Beat Surrounded by an animated buzz since its live debut in 2007 at Derby Jazz Week, London-based guitarist Phil Robson's first outing with a string quartet proves to be every bit as exciting as the grapevine promised.



Best known to date for his work with the revved up and riotous Partisans band, which he co-leads with saxophonist Julian Siegel, Robson's credentials as a composer and arranger have already been well established—both with the Partisans, of whose Max (Babel, 2005), for instance, he wrote half the pieces, and under his own name. But the sophistication and inventiveness of his writing for a string quartet still comes as a surprise.



On Six Strings & The Beat, Robson has succeeded, where many have failed, in hard-wiring a string quartet into the jazz music surrounding it. The four players are creative members of the larger band, equals alongside double bassist Peter Herbert, Partisans' drummer Gene Calderazzo and Robson himself. Not only do the strings contribute vibrant riffs and counterpoints, their players also include two compelling improvisers: cellist Kate Shortt and violinist Emma Smith.



Robson acknowledges guitarist Bill Frisell as an influence—along with rock and jazz guitarists including Jimi Hendrix, Pat Martino, Barney Kessel and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin—and the breadth of Six Strings & The Beat is reminiscent of some of Frisell's recent work with strings. Its sweep may not be as kaleidoscopic as Frisell's double-CD suite, History, Mystery (Nonesuch, 2008), and the project's budget was tiny by comparison, but with its shorter length and leaner personnel, Robson's album has reach and punches well above its weight.



Robson touches down in Mali for the desert blues-informed "Songbird," on which Shortt's cello evokes the country's kora music; in New Orleans, for "Louisiana," written in remembrance of Hurricane Katrina and containing some heavily distorted, pain wracked electric guitar; and in Hungary, for the Bela Bartok-inspired "Quick Silver." Elsewhere he conjures up saxophonist Ornette Coleman's full-tilt abandon on "The Mook," and dips into Americana on "Hillbleeoos," on which he alternates between bluesy slide guitar riffs and fast-picked passages derived from bluegrass.



A wonderful album, one of the highlights of British jazz in 2008, and a direction that very much deserves further exploration.


Track Listing: Rubber Duck; Quick Silver; Songbird; Hold You; The Mook; Louisiana; Wishing Well; Silver Threads; Hillbleeoos; Sticks & Stones.

Personnel: Phil Robson: guitar; Emma Smith: violin; Jennymay Logan: violin; Naomi Fairhurst: viola; Naomi Fairhurst: cello; Kate Shortt: cello; Peter Herbert: double bass; Gene Calderazzo: drums; Christine Tobin: voice (4, 7).

Title: Six Strings & The Beat | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Babel Label


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by John Sharpe
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Resonance CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Black Focus CD/LP/Track Review Black Focus
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Ask Seek Knock" CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "Concentric Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Concentric Circles
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 30, 2016
Read "Prague After Dark" CD/LP/Track Review Prague After Dark
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Dance of Time" CD/LP/Track Review Dance of Time
by Jeff Winbush
Published: May 26, 2017
Read "How to Build a City" CD/LP/Track Review How to Build a City
by Jim Olin
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "Sooner And Later" CD/LP/Track Review Sooner And Later
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 4, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!