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Mick Coady’s Synergy

Nine Tales of the Pendulum


by Ian Mann

October 10, 2013


Adventurous yet accessible, this album represents a triumph for Coady who impresses mightily with both his writing and playing. An international ensemble features the great David Binney on alto sax.

Mick Coady’s Synergy

“Nine Tales of the Pendulum”

(Jellymould Jazz JM-JJ008)

Originally from Waterford, Ireland, bassist and composer Mick Coady first established himself in Dublin and has since been a fixture on the London jazz scene for the last ten years or so. He was a founding member of the Loop Collective and I know his playing from his work with vibraphonist Jim Hart but Coady has also worked with an impressive list of musicians including several visiting Americans. The roll call includes saxophonists Peter King, Scott Hamilton and Ronnie Cuber, pianist Alan Broadbent, vocalist Mark Murphy and cornet specialist Warren Vache.

A former Berklee student Coady has travelled widely and has absorbed the music of India, China and Thailand, elements of which appear in his writing alongside African and Brazilian influences. It was when performing as a sideman in New York that Coady met the great alto saxophonist David Binney and it represents a considerable coup for Coady to have such an influential musician appearing on this, his début album. In fact the quintet Coady deploys is a truly international affair with the English pianist Ivo Neame joined by the Irish musicians Michael Buckley (tenor saxophone) and Sean Carpio (drums).

“Nine Tales of the Pendulum” features seven excellent examples of Coady’s writing together with one piece each from Binney and Neame. The music possesses a keen intelligence and is full of interesting, sometimes complex, harmonic and rhythmic ideas yet it never becomes “difficult”. The phrase “adventurous yet accessible” seems to sum it up fairly well. The playing by this stellar international cast is excellent throughout but it’s the blending of the horns of Binney and Buckley that immediately strikes the listener. 

The album was recorded at Cauldron Studios in Dublin and mixed and mastered by Buckley at his House of Horns studio. It’s an impressive production, the clarity and precision allowing each musician to be heard at his best. The album appears on the enterprising Jellymould Jazz imprint based in Huddersfield and Coady acknowledges the assistance of the Arts Council of Ireland in bringing the project to fruition.

The album opens with Coady’s “Autumn” which features Binney’s incisive, intelligent alto probing and needling above the urgent asymmetric grooves laid down by Coady, Neame and the consistently busy but imaginative Carpio. The warmer tone of Buckley’s tenor oversees a change of pace and a general reduction in the overall lvel of intensity. Both saxophonists acquit themselves well and reveal their different musical personalities. The rhythm section handle some pretty complex ideas with considerable aplomb. An excellent start.

“Enemies Of Order” sees the two horns meshing together both in unison and in thrilling counterpoint. There’s no doubt that Binney brings a real New York sense of urgency and adventure to this music and the British and Irish guys respond in kind. Neame, who has consistently thrilled jazz audiences as a member of Phronesis, gets the opportunity to stretch out and grabs his chance brilliantly.

Binney’s “Real Ballad” is exactly that, a thing of shimmering beauty featuring the composer’s assured alto linking well with Buckley’s tenor above Carpio’s delicately brushed accompaniment. Neame’s solo represents the pianist at his most lyrical above Coady’s deep bass undertow and Carpio’s delicately nuanced drumming. Both saxophonists solo at length, each generating an atmosphere of suppressed intensity.

“Naturally Liberating Molecules” is more robust and angular with the horns coalescing on the theme before embarking on suitably muscular and exploratory solos. Once more Neame, Coady and Carpio deal with some challenging rhythmic tasks with Carpio’s drums topping and tailing the piece. 

“64 Claudio Coello” presents a more languid side of the band but the blending of the horns continues to fascinate, both on the head and on the increasingly exploratory solos. There’s also that rarest of beasts, a Coady bass solo. In the main the self effacing leader seems happy to place himself at the service of the music, regardless of the context he’s operating in. Whilst this represents a most admirable trait it’s good to hear him enjoying a spot in the limelight and to witness his huge,singing tone and strong melodic sense on an excellent solo.

Neame’s “Unseen Coracle” first appeared on his excellent 2012 octet album “Yatra”. It’s typical of Neame’s busy, complex writing style and gives this all star ensemble plenty to get its collective teeth into. Some characteristically knotty ensemble passages preface an expansive solo from the composer as the music enters piano trio mode with the rapport between Neame and Carpio particularly impressive. 

Neame’s solo piano also opens Coady’s “Abyss”, a twelve minute plus opus that unfolds gradually and demonstrates a more cinematic and narrative style to his writing. The composer features as a soloist once more and there are also strong contributions from Neame and both saxophonists.

“Beginning” edges closer to ballad territory with a lilting melodic theme providing Binney, Neame and Buckley with the opportunity to stretch out and explore in hugely effective fashion, the music gradually growing in terms of complexity and intensity as the soloists develop their ideas.

The album concludes with “Skimpy”, this “ninth tale” a tricky Ornette-ish theme acting as the springboard for final thrilling solos from Binney and Buckley with Carpio drumming up a storm on the traps. 

“Nine Tales of the Pendulum” represents a triumph for the “quiet man” Coady who impresses mightily with both his writing and his playing. As a composer his ideas are consistently interesting and ambitious and in the hands of this stellar Trans-Atlantic band they work brilliantly with all five musicians in inspired form throughout. It’s perhaps inevitable that it will be Binney’s contribution that grabs the headlines, perhaps rightly so as he plays like a demon throughout, but nevertheless this is a superb team effort.

Coady has put together an equally star studded band to perform this music on a short UK and European tour during October 2013. Dates below;

Mick Coady - double bass
David Binney - alto sax
Ivo Neame - piano
Julian Arguelles - tenor sax
James Maddren - drums  

Upcoming Synergy Tour Dates October 2013:
October 11, 5pm - THSH Birmingham, UK
October 12, 1pm - Marsden Jazz Festival, Marsden, UK
October 15, 9pm - Con Cellar Bar, Camden, London, UK
October 17, 8pm - Band On The Wall, Manchester, UK
October 18, 9pm - Studio 3 at the Dr. Anton Phillipszaal, Den Haag, Holland

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