by Ian Mann
April 08, 2014
"Coalescence" is a worthy follow up to "Forward Space" and should help to strengthen Canniere's reputation as one of the brightest emerging talents on the UK jazz scene.
(Whirlwind Recordings WR4642)
Andre Canniere is an American born trumpeter and composer now based in London. “Coalescence”, released in October 2013, is his second album for Michael Janisch’s Whirlwind Recordings label following 2012’s acclaimed “Forward Space”, the subject of a favourable review elsewhere on this site. Canniere’s highly melodic music combines elements of jazz and rock without ever falling into the pitfalls and clichés of “fusion”.
For this second outing Canniere has retained the nucleus of the group that appeared on his début with Hannes Riepler continuing on guitar alongside Ryan Trebilcock on double bass and Jon Scott at the drums. There is a change in the piano chair where George Fogel is replaced by Ivo Neame, who also contributes accordion.
I saw the “Coalescence” line up perform opposite Riepler’s quartet at Charlie Wright’s in Hoxton in a special double bill that formed part of the 2012 London Jazz Festival. At this point they were already playing many of the pieces to be heard on this current recording and their familiarity with the material is immediately apparent. However the gig was only a qualified success, the music was good but a poor audience turn out and the consequent lack of any real atmosphere meant that the event lacked that essential “Festival Buzz”. This is not to cast aspersions upon the musicianship and Roger Warburton of Cardiff Jazz told me that Canniere and his group were terrific when they appeared at Dempsey’s in October 2013. Reports also suggest that Canniere was also acknowledged as one of the best performers at the 2013 Whirlwind Recordings Festival which was staged at Kings Place, London.
Canniere’s compositions are inspired by real life people, places and events and as with the previous album his liner notes briefly explain something of the genesis of each tune. He describes the album as “the coalescence of several thoughts and musings, both dear and dire, into a musical self portrait”. As on “Forward Space” his sources of inspiration are both personal and political and his brief sketches of explanation act as an aid to both the reviewer and the general listener.
The album commences with “Sweden Hill”, a tune inspired by Canniere’s now hazy memories of the small rural Pennsylvania town in which he spent his first five years. The leader’s trumpet is at the heart of the ensemble sound and his stellar London based band rises well to the challenges presented by his adventurous but inherently melodic writing. “Sweden Hill” undergoes a variety of changes in mood, timbre and tempo, reflective perhaps of Canniere’s now fragmented memories of his early childhood. Canniere is the principal soloist but there’s also room for Neame to make his mark at the piano with a typically dark edged solo full of adventure and harmonic invention.
“Gibbs And East” is Canniere’s homage to Rochester, NY, perhaps inspired by the forward thinking international jazz festival that takes place there each summer and offers UK jazz acts the opportunity to present their music to the American public. Canniere’s tribute combines hip hop style grooves with jazz soloing and sophistication with bassist Trebilcock impressing early on before handing over to the leader. Canniere is an astonishingly fluent soloist who references many of the leading figures of the contemporary jazz trumpet tradition from Miles Davis to Dave Douglas to Christian Scott but always ends up sounding like himself, thanks in part to his highly personalised writing style.
Like a certain well known man made fibre “Nylon” references both New York and London and Canniere’s move from one to the other. Again Scott lays down a highly contemporary groove as guitarist Riepler, thus far hidden in the ensemble, comes to the fore, linking up well with Canniere and delivering a solo that smoulders and soars by turns. Canniere also features strongly but like most of the performances this is a strong ensemble effort as the group negotiate the twists and turns of Canniere’s increasingly sophisticated writing.
Canniere’s political views first bubble to the surface with “Gaslands”, a protest against the US fracking industry, an unwelcome development that also seems to be making headway in the UK.
Possibly inspired by Josh Fox’s 2010 documentary film “Gasland” the mood of Canniere’s composition is sombre rather than angry with thoughtful and reflective solos by Neame and Canniere, the latter highly expressive emotionally and highly impressive technically.
The two part “Zuid” is named after a railway station in Brussels and takes its inspiration from Canniere’s numerous train journeys around Europe. “Zuid Intro” is an evocative solo bass episode from Trebilcock that eventually morphs into the riff that kick starts “Zuid” itself. The main theme is urgent and propulsive with a “morse code” type motif and provides the jumping off point for solos from Canniere and Neame plus a closing drum feature for the excellent Scott. Not that it’s all hammer and tongs, Canniere’s episodic writing includes a number of the twists, turns and variations that typify the best journeys with Neame’s solo incorporating some elements of quiet reflection.
“Parrallax” refers to the distortion of experience by age. Initially centred around Riepler’s needling, pointillist guitar motif the piece combines rhythmic sophistication and a slightly academic air with the pure emotion of Canniere’s darkly brooding trumpet and Riepler’s soaring guitar.
“Point Zero” is the second political item on the agenda, Canniere’s protest against the inadequate gun laws of the United States inspired by the Newtown shootings of 2012. Neame’s accordion is heard on the intro and doubles up with Canniere’s trumpet above Scott’s powerful back beats. Anger is expressed through the interlocking ensemble grooves and Canniere’s blazing trumpet .
The album concludes with the gently impressionistic “Elk Run”, the title the name of a quiet dirt road in Canniere’s native northern Pennsylvania. The only ballad on the record it ends proceedings on an elegiac note and effectively bring the album full circle, bookended as it is by images from Canniere’s childhood. Both Canniere on trumpet and Neame on piano are heard at their most lyrical on this unashamedly beautiful piece, further proof of Canniere’s melodic gifts.
“Coalescence” is a worthy follow up to “Forward Space” and should help to strengthen Canniere’s reputation as one of the brightest emerging talents on the UK jazz scene. Reviewing the album in Jazzwise magazine Selwyn Harris remarked that Canniere’s début was probably stronger thematically and I think I’d have to go along with that, the tunes there were certainly more direct and had a greater immediate impact. Harris counters this with the observation that the ensemble playing is better this time round, again a valid conclusion bearing in mind that much of this music had been “played in” through live performance. It’s arguable that Canniere’s writing is now more ambitious and complex and in any event it would be difficult to reproduce the impact of that first record. “Coalescence” represents a “polishing of the diamond” and is an impressive piece of work in its own right although I’d still have to say I preferred the début if pushed.
The “Coalesence” band will continue to work but Canniere is now also working on other projects including his new Freeway band featuring the extraordinary talent that is violinist and vocalist Alice Zawadzki. Freeway plays at The Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston, London tonight, April 8th 2014. Check them out if you can. Details at http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk
Andre Canniere; trumpet
Alice Zawadzki; voice, violin
Esben Tjalve; piano, accordion
Hannes Riepler; guitar
Loz Garrett; bass
Chris Draper; drums