Spring 2020 has produced two notable albums from British guitarists. In April we had Rob Luft's exquisite Life Is The Dancer (Edition). In May we have Chris Montague's own-name debut, Warmer Than Blood. Like Luft, Montague writes engaging tunes and both albums are engagingly melodic; Montague's arrangements, however, are more open-ended, giving the music a collective vibe.
Montague has recorded extensively since the late 2000s, notably with Troyka and Slowly Rolling Camera. His Troyka colleague Kit Downes joins him here, in a trio with everybody's favourite electric bassist, Ruth Goller. Goller adds useful grit to Montague and Downes' lyrical focus. Her c.v., though varied, includes a singularly intense and ferocious strand. She emerged on the London scene around 2007 as a member of Pete Wareham's high decibel, so called "punk jazz" band Acoustic Ladyland and has followed that trajectory through to jazz quartet Let Spin, whose Steal The Light (Efpi) is another spring 2020 landmark.
Some of the appeal of Warmer Than Blood lies in Montague's toplines. But at least as much comes from the improvisatory focus of the arrangements and the use the players make of the freedoms these offer. Goller leans towards the foundational, usefully so in a drummerless band, while Montague and Downes are more investigative. Downes' percussive use of the piano cabinet offers an enjoyable side dish.
Irish Handcuffs (Introduction); Irish Handcuffs; Warmer Than Blood; FTM; C Squad; Not My Usual Type; The Internet; Moira; Rendered.
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