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Andre Canniere Group

Forward Space


by Ian Mann

January 15, 2012


An intelligent and stimulating amalgam of jazz and rock elements. For all their jazz sophistication Canniere's tunes often have a song like structure and flair for melody.

Andre Canniere Group

“Forward Space”

(Whirlwind Recordings WR4619)

Trumpeter and composer Andre Canniere is an American musician based in London and it is perhaps therefore appropriate that his latest album should appear on Whirlwind, the record label run by another US import, bassist Michael Janisch. Canniere relocated to the UK in 2008 and “Forward Space” features his London based group and includes some of that city’s finest young players. George Fogel, who guested so effectively on the recent Empirical album “Elements Of Truth”, is on piano and keyboards and the band also includes guitarist Hannes Riepler and bassist Ryan Trebilcock with drumming duties shared between Kairos 4tet’s Jon Scott and yet another expat Yank, Chris Vatalaro. 

Canniere is a skilled writer who is able to move easily between musical genres. He has written for cinema and for symphony orchestra and has been commissioned to compose a jazz mass for a fifteen piece ensemble by St. Peters’ in New York City. Canniere describes “Forward Space” as “My first major statement as a composer and bandleader” and the writing, which addresses a variety of jazz styles is both mature and impressive. Much of the music was written at the time of Canniere’s move from New York to London and the music reflects something of the spirit of both cities with many of the pieces drawing inspiration from contemporary political events. For instance the urgent opener “Crunch” was written in reaction to the 2008 financial crisis and the false sense of euphoria that existed prior to that event. Canniere’s music is often complex and embraces rapid changes of mood, style and tempo but remains intrinsically melodic. The blend of trumpet and guitar sometimes reminds me of the work of Ron Horton and Steve Cardenas in bassist Ben Allison’s group. I don’t wish to labour the point but Canniere’s also seems to share something of Allison’s melodic sense and political awareness.

The more optimistic title track features the warm tone of Canniere’s trumpet above Scott & Trebilcock’s buoyant grooves and Riepler’s “Morse Code” guitar motif. It’s complicated yet catchy and is a highly sophisticated piece of writing with its blend of simple melodies and complex, interlocking rhythms. Canniere describes the piece as being “a reflection on the seemingly insignificant events that make up everyday life which can eventually culminate in a sudden change or development”. Here that change comes when Scott’s colourful drums wheedle their way into the foreground to carry the melody in an extended percussion feature.

The insanely infectious “Cure” has actually been released as a single and is a bass driven fusion freak out that Canniere wrote in New York with the intention of summing up the buzz and energy of living there. The piece does all this and more but the spirit of London based bands such as Led Bib and Acoustic Ladyland is in there too. Trebilcock and Vatalaro are relentless as Riepler and Fogel both deliver dirty, skronky solos before Canniere takes over during a freer central section. The accompanying press release describes it as a “thrashy fairground ride, like a 21st century Tony Williams Lifetime band”, a description that’s not too far wide of the mark.

The richly atmospheric “Marshlands Blackout”, inspired by a return visit to Canniere’s childhood home in Pennsylvania changes the mood completely with the leader on velvety flugelhorn in a kind of highly descriptive abstract ballad. Fogel’s thoughtful use of electric piano adds considerably to the reflective feel of the piece. “September Piece” maintains the pensive mood with Canniere back on trumpet and with a thoughtful, exquisitely executed solo from guitarist Riepler.

The sparkling “Lost In Translation” delights in its dizzying time signatures but remains intrinsically melodic with Canniere’s fluent, agile trumpet leading his band mates on the kind of roller coaster ride that’s probably both a challenge and a delight to play.

“Spreading Hypocrisy” is Canniere’s musical comment on the Bush administration. It’s an appropriately schizophrenic piece with snatches of trumpet led melody punctuated by barrages of guitar driven riffs. Canniere on trumpet and Fogel on electric piano both get to stretch out with probing solos on a piece that the press release describes as a “lop sided Latin tune”. There’s also an obvious rock influence from Riepler’s guitar plus an element of cerebral funk. 

Finally comes the highly personal “Song For J”, Canniere’s dedication to his young son Jonas. Here Canniere plays all the instruments himself-trumpet (natch), Rhodes, guitar and cajon. With its gentle, folk like melody it’s the simplest piece on the record but is none the worse for that and is obviously a labour of love. The almost na?ve beauty of the piece represents an effective coda after the complex, harder edged and sometimes angry music that has gone before.

“Forward Space” does indeed represent a major statement from Canniere with its blend of intelligent writing and strong playing. Canniere is a fluent, technically gifted trumpeter who doesn’t appear to borrow too obviously from the greats of the past although Dave Douglas might represent a suitable contemporary comparison. Canniere’s compositions are influenced by contemporary rock almost as much as jazz but in a good way, this is no slick fusion record but represents a far more intelligent and stimulating amalgam of jazz and rock elements. For all their jazz sophistication Canniere’s tunes often have a song like structure and flair for melody.

It should be fascinating to watch Canniere and his group perform this music live. They will be undertaking a short British tour (dates below) but unfortunately all the shows are just a little bit too far away for me. If you are lucky enough to live near any of the venues I’d recommend that you go and check him out. “Forward Space” will be released on January 23rd 2012.

31 January 2012
8:30 pm - 11:30 pm
Forward Space Album Launch at The Vortex, London

London1 February 2012
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Forward Space Tour - Ray’s Jazz Cafe, London

15 March 2012 -
Forward Space Tour - The Spin, Oxford
9:00 pm - 11:00 pm

27 March 2012
8:00 pm - 11:30 pm
Forward Space Tour - Parr Jazz Club, Liverpool

28 March 2012
7:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Forward Space Tour - Capstone Theatre, Liverpool

Full details at

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