You might imagine jazz musicians are well suited to run record companies, for risk taking and creativity are fundamental to both activities. Mostly, however, musician-led labels have unhappy histories. Either the musician is not from the top drawer and their A&R skills suffer accordingly; or they lack the administrative skills to run a business enterprise effectively. Bassist and composer Charles Mingus
was an example of the latter. But just occasionally the combination works. Trumpeter Charles Tolliver
and pianist Stanley Cowell
have made history with Strata-East, a label which sits alongside Impulse! in significance. In Britain, trumpeter Matthew Halsall
has made Gondwana Records, which he founded in 2008, into a notable success. Also in Britain, keyboardist Dave Stapleton
has done the same with Edition Records, which he co-founded, also in 2008. That both labels are based hundreds of miles from London, one in Manchester, the other in Cardiff, may or may not be germane to the story. Where The Streets Lead
is the fifth album from Slowly Rolling Camera
, the project Stapleton launched around 2013 with drummer Elliot Bennett
and sound designer Deri Roberts
, a trio who remain the core band. Slowly Rolling Camera sits at the intersections of jazz, trip hop and cinematic soundscapes. Its music is musicianly, precisely arranged and at times complex, but never less than supremely accessible, a winning combination of groove, through composition and improvisational flair. Closest comparators since the turn of the decade are Italian saxophonist Alessandro Meroli
's outstanding Notturni
(Space Echo, 2020) and Deri Roberts' spin-off group Blackmantis' Devil's Flower
(GhostLocust, 2020), which also included Elliot Bennett.
The soundscapes conjured up on Where The Streets Lead
range from the turbulent through the chilled, and the guest musicians helping out include saxophonists Mark Lockheart
and Chris Potter
, guitarist Stuart McCallum
, bassist Jasper Høiby
and trumpeter Verneri Pohjola
. An important support role is played by an acoustic string octet, with arrangements by Dave Stapleton, who also wrote all eight tracks. The album was recorded remotely at various locations throughout 2020, though it all sounds much more real-time (or perhaps hyper-real) than that.
You Are the Truth; Where the Streets Lead; Lost Orbits; The Afternoon of Human Life; Widest
Possible Aperture; Illuminate; Feels Like Fiction; A Force for Good.
Mark Lockheart: soprano and tenor saxophones; Stuart McCallum: guitar; Jasper Høiby: double
bass; Verneri Pohjola: trumpet; Jon Visanji: violin; Jenni Curiel violin; James Toll: violin; Victoria
Stapleton: violin; Linda Kidwell: viola; Rob Tuson: viola; Phil Daish-Handy: cello; Lionel Handy:
cello; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone (4); Sachal Vasandani: vocals (6).