by Ian Mann
March 10, 2009
An attractive look at some classic jazz tunes by a trio with a distinctive group sound
This 2005 CD by the Hertfordshire based trio Acoustic Jazz Implosion (or AJI) was forwarded to me by the band’s bass player Roger Hudson, a huge jazz fan as well as being an accomplished musician himself. Hudson appears here on fretless electric bass alongside Peter Roby on five string violin and Gerald Roberts on nylon string guitar. It’s an unusual instrumental configuration and the trio interpret a number of classic jazz tunes not normally associated with this type of line up. They also include one original from the pen of guitarist Roberts.
Clocking in at just over 34 minutes the album is almost an EP by modern day standards. The group’s liner notes inform the listener that “chord sequences and initial tunes were arranged, but chord voicings, accompaniments and solos were improvised” and that the plan was to “take some standards, twist them, add a bit of yourself…”
I’d say that the trio have succeeded admirably in their intentions. They’ve taken the kind of line up perhaps most closely associated with Django Reinhardt and applied it to a range of tunes more commonly associated with horn players.
They commence with Miles Davis’ (or should that be Bill Evans) “Blue In Green”, a feature for Roberts’ agile acoustic guitar picking above the underpinning purr of Hudson’s bass. Roby’s violin weaves in and out of the piece, taking the initial solo before leaving the field clear for Roberts and then returning for the coda. Hudson’s liquid fretless bass also features as a solo instrument. It’s an unusual treatment of a classic tune, hinting at gypsy jazz here or Brazilian samba there but all the while fulfilling the trio’s “take,twist, add” objective. I’ve certainly never heard this tune played in quite this style before.
The same would apply to John Coltrane’s classic ballad “Naima” here given a leisurely interpretation by the trio. Roby’s mournful violin dominates the opening passages before giving way to the clean, clear sound of Roberts, guitar. The two instruments later combine brilliantly, supported by Hudson’s fluid bass, in a beautiful and distinctive version of this lovely tune.
Bob Hilliard and Sammy Fain’s “Alice In Wonderland” exhibits a childlike quality courtesy of Roby’s breezy violin and Roberts’ airy guitar picking.
George Gershwin’s “My Man’s Gone Now” is suitably dolorous, the mood set by Roby’s blues inflected violin. Roberts plays with customary elegance and there’s a lyrical bass solo from Hudson.
As elsewhere the trio’s unhurried signature style suits the tune well.
Roberts’ own “Frutta Di Bosco” ends the album on an upbeat note. It’s joyous tune that features nimble guitar and violin atop a springy bass undertow. Light and airy it’s an ideal way to sign off.
AJI are currently working on a new album of original material which should be completed by Summer 2009.blog comments powered by Disqus