All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

58

Better Than TV: Song From No Man's Land

Gareth Thompson By

Sign in to view read count
The children on this album's cover are shown enjoying a timeless street game. Such kids often play by their own rules—much like adult musicians, as Better Than TV proves here. A collective from Cambridge, UK, the band is led by bassist Sergio Contrino, whose Italian heritage finds an outlet on this eclectic disc.

Song From No Man's Land is aptly titled, with elements of klezmer, cabaret, Nordic dance and Dixie all merging into the jazz framework. cassie gorman's lead vocal brings a theatrical twist, as she tackles English, Italian and Latin lyrics with a flourish. "Before I Go" makes for a striking opening song with its energised percussion and rallying brass. "Standing With Sally" gives another zesty tune and snappy chorus, which then broadens out into wider improv. Each musician gets ample chance to shine across the album, with Contrino's pumping bass holding things in check.

Two trumpets, a trombone and a sax on board means you hear hints of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble in some slower sections. You might also catch the sophistication of Brad Mehldau, the genre-twisting threesome The Bad Plus, and Joshua Redman's gleeful strains. Which is not to tag Contrino's work as derivative—he is, after all, an associate composer at the London Symphony Orchestra's Soundhub project. But he likes to spice his broth with many flavours and creates a richly soulful brew.

Also impressive are the tone shifts within each number. Some pieces have more mood swings than a flighty teenager. Pensive piano lines, bruising ballads, lounge grooves, Latin airs and courtly chamber motifs are all here. "Da Iontano" draws on classic bop, just as "Gerico" offers a funky strut with flamenco strumming. The sax on "Norway" pipes up with sweet clarity and "Hey Joe" is a word-busy song that reflects the verbal barrage of election campaigns.

Having ironed out the sound issues that marred their debut effort, Better Than TV offers a tight and eloquent follow-up. On this evidence, Contrino's class act would be worth going some distance to see live. Song From No Man's Land is a hymn to this group's sheer vitality.

Track Listing: Before I Go; Gerico; Standing With Sally; Da Iontano; Latin Song; Norway; Für Louis; Hey Joe; Samba Per Mi; Bus Stop Blu; L’Attesa E’ Lunga.

Personnel: Alastair Appleton: sax; Ben Comeau; piano; Cassie Gorman: vocals; Daniel Duffy: guitar; Gabriel Bliard: trumpet; Joe Davighi: drums; Louis Day: trumpet; Luke Congdon: piano; Rowan Haslam: vocals, cello; Sergio Contrino: bass; Simon Fothergill: trombone.

Title: Song From No Man's Land | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Late

Late

Self Produced
2015

buy

Related Articles

Read Smart Grid CD/LP/Track Review
Smart Grid
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 16, 2018
Read Monochrome CD/LP/Track Review
Monochrome
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 16, 2018
Read Attitude Manouche CD/LP/Track Review
Attitude Manouche
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 16, 2018
Read Geometry of Caves CD/LP/Track Review
Geometry of Caves
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 16, 2018
Read This World of Dew CD/LP/Track Review
This World of Dew
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 16, 2018
Read Gegenschein CD/LP/Track Review
Gegenschein
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 15, 2018
Read "D'Agala" CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by John Sharpe
Published: January 28, 2018
Read "Green Man" CD/LP/Track Review Green Man
by Jim Olin
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Shades Of Life" CD/LP/Track Review Shades Of Life
by James Nadal
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "You Already Know" CD/LP/Track Review You Already Know
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "Moonlight Vision" CD/LP/Track Review Moonlight Vision
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 28, 2017
Read "Copenhagen Live 1964" CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2017