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by Ian Mann

January 08, 2014


A highly promising début from a very accomplished London based international ensemble.

Followed By Thirteen


(Jellymould Jazz JM-JJ013)

The group Followed By Thirteen is a truly international collaboration featuring four of the best young musicians on the London jazz scene. The band leader is Danish emigre Henrik Jensen who plays double bass and composed all of the music on this highly promising début. He is joined by his compatriot Esben Tjalve at the piano, American born trumpeter Andre Canniere, and British drummer Peter Ibbetson.

Jensen has toured extensively with vocal trio the Puppini Sisters but he has also worked with saxophonists Pete Wareham and Martin Speake, pianists Arthur Lea and Will Butterworth plus that great musical maverick, guitarist and vocalist Billy Jenkins. He has enjoyed a particularly fruitful musical relationship with the German saxophonist Peter Ehwald, and their intimate duo album simply titled “Jensen Ehwald” is reviewed elsewhere on this site in conjunction with “Songs of Trees”, an earlier release by The North Trio featuring Jensen, Ehwald and drummer Wolfgang Hohn. Given the folk/jazz flavourings of these two releases it’s perhaps not too surprising to find that “Qualia” is a highly melodic album, although less obviously folk influenced than its predecessors, and that the rapport between the musicians is excellent throughout.

The other members of Followed By Thirteen have also featured on The Jazzmann, most notably Canniere for his solo début “Forward Space” and for his contribution to guitarist Hannes Riepler’s album “The Brave”. A new Canniere album “Coalescence” has recently been released and I’ll be taking a look at that shortly. Meanwhile Tjalve leads his own Red Kite ensemble, their album also the subject of a Jazzmann review. In demand drummer Ibbetson has appeared as a member of pianist Will Butterworth’s various groups and can be heard on Butterworth’s 2011 trio album “Hereafter”, also reviewed elsewhere.

The title “Qualia” is derived from a philosophical term meaning “an unfamiliar word for something that could not be more familiar to each of us : the way things seem to us” and the album is dedicated to Jensen’s late mother Linda. The group name Followed By Thirteen refers to Mrs Jensen’s deeply held superstitions and a subtle sense of melancholy imbues the entire album, not that it doesn’t have it’s lighter, playful, more energetic moments in a well programmed set of ten compositions that reference both British and Danish culture.

Opener “The Post Office” is lively and sprightly with an expansive solo from the excellent Tjalve, nimble trumpet phrasing from Canniere and suitably supple and flexible rhythmic support from Jensen and Ibbetson, the latter subtly busy but never obtrusive. It’s interesting to hear Canniere in a purely acoustic context having previously encountered him with his own, more obviously fusion, quintet. Jensen allows himself some time in the spotlight with an extended bass feature, striking a good balance between rhythm and melody.

The mysteriously titled “The Milden Hall Museum” is more reflective and features Canniere at his most lyrical and expressive on an extended trumpet feature that is sympathetically supported by the rest of the group. Tjalve and Jensen exhibit similar qualities and Ibbetson’s subtly detailed drumming is immaculate throughout.

“Dog Of The Day” begins by edging closer to regular bebop territory but veers away as the group stretch out with a series of inventive solos as Tjalve is followed by Jensen and Canniere, all prompted by the busy but subtle promptings of Ibbetson.

Following an opening trumpet and piano fanfare Jensen and Ibbetson establish an infectious groove on “A Wave Goodbye”, which acts as a launch pad for inventive and highly fluent solos from Canniere and Tjalve, both soloists effortlessly moving up and down the gears.

The title track is more sombre in tone, beginning with an absorbing trumpet and drum dialogue before metamorphosing into a melancholy ballad featuring richly emotive trumpet playing and correspondingly lyrical piano.

“City Fox” is an appropriate title for a tune written by a London based jazz musician - I see more foxes roaming the streets of Islington when I come up to town for the LJF each November than I do during the rest of the year in rural Herefordshire! The tune itself is one of the quartet’s livelier offerings, bop rooted and with an infectious loping swing that seems to be inspired by its subject. Canniere’s initial darting trumpet phrases are also highly appropriate and the piece is also the perfect vehicle for an effusive Tjalve piano solo, this followed by the soaring trumpet of Canniere.

Solo bass introduces “Landmarks” with the leader’s sturdy pulse and Ibbetson’s quirkily inventive drumming setting the scene for Tjalve’s and Canniere’s increasingly daring and imaginative explorations as the music flirts briefly with free jazz.

The ballad “Schmetteling” is also ushered in by Jensen’s bass with Canniere’s long, mournful, graceful trumpet lines subsequently taking over. The American distils real emotion through his playing and his lyricism is matched by the thoughtful Tjalve with Jensen adding a delicately melodic bass feature. Ibbetson’s unobtrusive, lightly brushed drums provide excellent accompaniment throughout.

As befits its title the trio item “Hep Hep” is a livelier offering, similar in mood to the earlier “City Fox”. It opens with bright and breezy interplay between bass, drums and trumpet and features a highly dexterous Jensen bass solo as Ibbetson’s brushes chatter around him. Canniere then returns to contribute a wonderfully fluent and imaginative solo before trading choruses with the consistently excellent Ibbetson.

Tjalve is back for the closing “Mum Melody”, Jensen’s moving tribute to his mother delivered in piano trio mode as Canniere sits out. Tjalve is in excellent melodic and lyrical form but appropriately it’s Jensen’s evocative bass solo that constitutes the heart of the piece.

“Qualia” is a highly appealing album that showcases Jensen’s talents as a bassist, composer and band-leader and there’s much to enjoy about the playing of the leader and his colleagues. All four musicians perform immaculately throughout with Canniere and Tjalve proving to be highly capable and imaginative soloists. If there’s a fault it’s that all sounds a little too considered, almost bloodless, at times but I suspect that live appearances may be somewhat different. Overall a highly promising début from a very accomplished international ensemble.

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