Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

2

Nat Birchall: World Without Form

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
In a world that often seems bereft of any sense of spirituality it's good to know that performers like saxophonist Nat Birchall are still true to the spirituality of music. Birchall, based in the northeast of England, continues to create beautiful, soulful, music on his fifth album as leader, World Without Form, in the company of some of the UK's finest young players.

Birchall's avowed love of John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders remains clear in his playing, such as his lovely tenor intros to "Dream Of Eden" and "Divine Harmony," and in his use of percussion. His love of reggae is far less to the fore musically, although some of the titles of his original compositions have echoes of 1970s roots reggae, while the title of the truly spectacular "The Black Ark" may well be a tribute to Lee "Scratch" Perry's famed studio.

The band lineup is similar to that on Birchall's Sacred Dimension (Gondwana Records, 2011). However, harpist Rachael Gladwin is missing this time round while drummer Paul Hession and bassist Jon Thorne step in. The absence of Gladwin's bright, crystalline harp is particularly noticeable when Birchall plays tenor saxophone—it offered an additional tonal quality to the music, a contrast to Birchall's soft tenor tone rather than the more complementary sound of Corey Mwamba's warm, relaxed vibes or pianist Adam Fairhall's flowing phrases. The change is less marked on tunes such as the swift, mystical, "Return To Ithaca," when Birchall plays soprano, giving his sound a sharper edge.

The sound is bolstered by the addition of second percussionist Andy Hay on five tracks, while on three of these tunes there's a further boost from Thorne as a second bassist. Doubling up bass and drums gives a "wall of sound" feel to the music but, as "The Black Ark" exemplifies, never overwhelms the melodies. Nick Blacka and Thorne set up a deep, rich, bass rhythm while the percussionists create a groove which is relaxed yet full of forward movement. Birchall (on tenor), Mwamba and Fairhall all use this foundation as a basis for crafting rather fine solos, full of lyricism and positivity.

There's a consistency of approach across Birchall's albums, but the variations in instrumentation and musicians, though relatively slight, ensure that each release bears its own personality. World Without Form's calming and uplifting music is a welcome addition to Birchall's discography, one of the most distinctive in contemporary British jazz.

Track Listing: World Without Form; The Black Ark; Dream Of Eden; Divine Harmony; Speak To Us Of Love; Return To Ithaca; Principle Of Beauty.

Personnel: Nat Birchall: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, tambourines, shakers, bells; Adam Fairhall: piano; Corey Mwamba: vibes, bells, shakers; Nick Blacka: bass; Paul Hession: drums; Jon Thorne: bass (2, 4, 6); Andy Hay: drums, congas, bells, shakers (1, 2, 4-6).

Title: World Without Form | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Sound Soul And Spirit


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Minor Step" CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Ignacio" CD/LP/Track Review Ignacio
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Madjafalao" CD/LP/Track Review Madjafalao
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Cultural Capital" CD/LP/Track Review Cultural Capital
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Jeg roper til deg" CD/LP/Track Review Jeg roper til deg
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "Luisa" CD/LP/Track Review Luisa
by Matt Marshall
Published: April 14, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!