Winner of the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Media, 2019


Ill Considered


by Ian Mann

June 04, 2024


Although largely improvised this is music that features strong melodies, propulsive grooves and powerful solos.

Ill Considered


(New Soil – NS0055CD)

Idris Rahman – saxophones, Liran Donin – bass, Emre Ramazanoglu – drums, percussion

A slightly belated look at this latest release from Ill Considered, a London based trio currently comprised of saxophonist Idris Rahman, drummer / percussionist Emre Ramazanoglu and bassist Liran Donin. “Precipice” was first released in March 2024 and represents the band’s second studio album.

Rahman and Ramazanoglu founded the group with bassist Leon Brichard in 2018 and the regular line up has also included percussionist Satin Singh. Other musicians to have featured on previous Ill Considered recordings include guitarist Steve Ashmore, percussionist Yahael Camara-Onono and saxophonist Tamar Osborn.

Since its formation Ill Considered has released more than a dozen digital albums (some of which have also been made available on vinyl or cassette),  the majority of these being recorded at their wholly improvised live shows. The energy and intensity of these performances has earned Ill Considered something of a cult following and the majority of their previous releases have now sold out.

Liran Donin joined the band in 2020 and appears on the 2022 release “Liminal Space”, Ill Considered’s first studio album and a recording that also appears on the New Soil record label.
This represented something of a departure for the group as drummer / recording engineer Ramazanoglu explained at the time;
“This album represents a rebirth of the band in the image of what came before. The compositions are still heavily rooted in unadulterated improvisation, but we have taken the raw recordings that would previously have been released as they were and added complementary arrangements, as well as inviting incredible guests to perform on them”.

The band’s guests included saxophonists Ahnanse, Tamar Osborn and Kaidi Akinnibi, percussionists Sarathy Korwar and Ollie Savill, vibraphonist Ralph Wyld, tuba player Theon Cross and trumpeter Robin Hopcraft.  Although the album was more obviously ‘produced’ than the band’s earlier ‘official bootleg’ recordings it still packed a powerful and visceral punch that demanded the attention of the listener. My review of “Liminal Space” can be found here;

However the “Liminal Space” album wasn’t my first exposure to Ill Considered’s music. In May 2021 I enjoyed an intense and exciting online performance by the core trio of Rahman, Donin and Ramazanoglu that was streamed as part of the second of Cheltenham Jazz Festival’s all day ‘Jazz Streams’. This featured Donin playing the Japanese instrument  the taishogoto (or Nagoya harp) rather than his usual electric bass. My account of that performance can be found as part of my Festival coverage here;

Also essential to the Ill Considered ethos is the visual artist and film maker Vincent de Boer, who designs the group’s distinctive album sleeves and who is considered to be a full member of the band, credited with “ink and brushes”. In October 2021 Ill Considered and de Boer collaborated with another  visual artist, Lisa Indigo Burns Wormsley, to present two inter-active shows featuring music, visual art and film at the Purcell Room at London’s Southbank Centre.

For Ill Considered “Precipice” represents something of a “back to basics” approach with the core trio of Rahman, Donin and Ramazonoglu improvising in the studio. The band summarise their approach thus;
“We tend to record pretty much everything we do, we feel our voice is found creating compositions in the moment. We try to put as few obstacles to creativity in our path as possible and try to live with the honesty of the recordings that come from this approach”.

This may be ‘free jazz’ but Ill Considered’s music avoids the stylistic tropes often associated with that particular strand of music as they deliver ten relatively short tracks, instant compositions that are high on energy and which are bright, punchy and accessible.

Opener “Jellyfish” emerges out of Donin’s buoyant electric bass groove, his insistent vamp the bedrock for Ramazonoglu’s skittering drum and cymbal work as his sticks dance around the kit. Rahman’s increasingly garrulous sax surges, plunges and probes in a manner that reminds me of David Jackson’s saxophone solo on Van der Graaf Generator’s “Killer”, although I may be making too much of the aquatic imagery inherent in both tune titles.

“Don’t Be Sad (It’s Too Late)” finds the trio in more reflective mood with the desolate wail of Rahman’s horn underpinned by deep bass resonances, the shimmering of cymbals and the clatter of sticks on rims. There’s also a hint of electronica, thanks to Donin’s judicious use of a range of effects pedals.

“Vespa Crabo” begins quietly and reflectively with Rahman’s breathy sax underscored by an increasingly assertive bass and drum vamp. The tension gradually ramps up with Rahman’s sax becoming more strident and aggressive as the underlying groove quickens its pace and becomes increasingly propulsive. Gradually the band reach full throttle, their sound becoming increasingly abrasive courtesy of Rahman’s ferocious sax wailing and Donin’s monstrous fuzz bass. After reaching a kinetic peak the trio then gradually reel things back in again.

The plunking of Donin’s bass introduces “Linus With The Sick Burn”, the second single to be released from the album, following “Jellyfish”. Regarded as one of the album’s stand out tracks the piece combines a bubbling bass groove with the sounds of echoed sax and the loose limbed polyrhytmic flow of Ramazanoglu’s drums. Donin’s agile bass line has been compared to the ducking and weaving of a prize winning fighter, but the boxing analogy could equally be applied to Rahman’s sax as it feints and jabs, landing several knock out blows.

The title of “And Then There Were Three” must surely be a reference to the trio’s decision to go back to basics. I’ll spare you the Genesis analogies – oh, sorry too late. As befits the circumstances behind the title the music is an energetic free jazz squall with Rahman erupting powerfully above an elastic bass groove and Ramazanoglu’s busy and ever evolving drum commentary.

“Katabatic” calms things down again, relatively speaking. An almost conventional walking bass line allied to understated loose limbed drumming underscores Rahman’s sax explorations. But once again the trio gradually ramp up the tension as the bass and drum groove becomes more urgent and Rahman’s sax soloing more impassioned.

“Black Lacquer” commences with a snippet of studio chatter as Donin establishes a percolating bass groove, this providing the bedrock for Rahman’s melodic sax inventions. Ramazonoglu then locks in with Donin to create an unstoppable groove that fuels Rahman’s increasingly incisive sax soloing.

The title of the album’s third single, “Kintsugi”, refers to the Japanese art of mending crockery with golden glue. The band regard it as “a metaphor for the beauty of imperfection”. Emerging out of Donin’s bass motif the piece develops an unstoppable momentum with Rahman’s stentorian sax blasting underpinned by a relentless groove, with Ramazonoglu’s drums coming to the fore towards the close.

“Solenopsis” slows things down, at least initially,  and re-introduces some of the North African and spiritual jazz tendencies that informed “Liminal Space”. Ramazanoglu’s percussion is particularly distinctive and there’s a John Coltrane / Pharaoh Sanders inspired intensity about the muezzin like wailing of Rahman’s sax.

The album concludes with the atmospheric and evocative “Alpenglow”,  with the sound of Rahman’s sax echoed, the re-verb giving it a Jan Garbarek like quality, there’s a real ‘cry’ in his sound. Donin keeps things simple as Ramazanoglu’s cymbal scrapes add to the rarefied atmosphere.

Following the more expansive soundscapes and the multiple guest appearances of “Liminal Space” this latest recording sees the three core members of Ill Considered going back to their roots – the REAL Ill Considered, if you will. Apparently the album was recorded ‘live in the studio’ over the course of three intense two hour sessions, these subsequently skilfully edited to produce this forty five minute (approx) album.

Each track coheres remarkably well, as does the album as a whole, and there’s no musical flab on this intense, but still readily accessible recording with no single piece of music outstaying its welcome. Although largely improvised this is music that features strong melodies, propulsive grooves and powerful solos. Jazz intelligence combines with rock power and a punkish energy and attitude and it’s easy to see why Ill Considered have acquired such a strong cult following.

“Precipice” may lack the breadth and depth of its predecessor, but its aims are very different and it is still a hugely enjoyable recording in its own right, and one that arguably best represents the true spirit of the band. Live performance remains Ill Considered’s natural habitat and it’s still my ambition to get to one of their gigs should the opportunity ever present itself.

In the meantime there are the band’s recordings to enjoy, all of which can be found here;

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