351

Robert Mitchell's Panacea: The Cusp

Alex J Watson By

Sign in to view read count
Robert Mitchell's Panacea: The Cusp Robert Mitchell's Panacea presents The Cusp, its third album, and debut release for Edition Records. This collection of ten highly arranged original compositions by Mitchell, combines complex rhythmic writing with contemporary vocal jazz.

The recording is delivered with a squeaky-clean production sound that can only be a reflection of the leader's attention to detail, and a personal involvement at every level. Mitchell was certainly wearing his heart on his sleeve when writing this record—from his ensemble writing through to the string arrangements and lyrics.

"Panacea," the Greek goddess of medicine and healing, is a fitting namesake for the band, as The Cusp oozes tenderness, introspection, and therapeutic resolve, albeit with a healthy portion of rhythmic grind. Featured vocalist Deborah Jordan's voice fits the bill for healing quality; smooth and precise throughout the album, her delivery is consistent, and the openness of the recording suits her innocent timbre. The vocal writing is always fluid, even when offset by cleverly syncopated and thoroughly worked-out ensemble playing.

The opener, "Essence," catches just that of the record. Jordan's voice floats over a building groove, underpinned by Empirical back-liner, drummer Shaney Forbes. The strings are exploited to full effect—used in the forefront of the melody, as backings, and, in an impressive soli section, doubling with the piano. Bassist Tom Mason also plays violin, alongside violinist/violist Julian Ferraretto and cellist Benjy Davis.

"Aura" is another rhythmic twister, with Mitchell displaying his fantastic ability to displace and entwine parts to great effect. Percussionist Hammadi Valdez adds reams with his intricate patterns, as the band weaves.

Pieces such as "Mio Inamorato" and "Lucid Deamt" offer more personal moments as bare piano-vocal duos, where Mitchell's playing is understated and elegant, supportive and open. "Blessings" is beautifully introspective, and features the whole band simmering on top of Forbes' gorgeous brush-work. The strings are well-used, and an interesting pizzicato section sets up the start of a stunning yet modest solo from Mitchell.

Spoken word artist HKB Fin makes a very welcome appearance on the energetic title track. The band's sound here is at its most organic, and the recording is realized with less of a clinical touch. While Finn speaks his verses, his voice and delivery add warmth and depth. Mitchell switches from piano, shining playing the fender Rhodes, with a solo that is certainly one of the album's best moments.

Mitchell's band features a sterling lineup of players from the UK scene. His compositions are personal and arrangements thorough. Although often complex in content, he manages to retain a certain level of accessibility and reserve that will make this record appeal to a wider catchment. The Cusp marks Panacea as one of the most original vocal-led groups on the UK scene.

Track Listing: Essence; Aura; Mia Inamorato;Fortunately So; The Blessing; The Cusp; Lucid Deamt; A Map of the Sky; Quantum; Flawless.

Personnel: Robert Mitchell: piano, keyboards, glock, percussion; Deborah Jordan: vocals; Tom Mason: bass, violin; Shaney Forbes: Drums; Hammadi Valdez: percussion; Julian Ferrsretto: violin, viola; Ben Davis: cello; HKB Finn: spoken word.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Edition Records | Style: Beyond Jazz


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Failure of Words CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Metamorphosis" CD/LP/Track Review Metamorphosis
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Known-Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "The Organ Grinder" CD/LP/Track Review The Organ Grinder
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "The Quest: Live at the A.P.C." CD/LP/Track Review The Quest: Live at the A.P.C.
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Duo" CD/LP/Track Review Duo
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: June 9, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!