by Ian Mann
February 14, 2012
An impressive and sophisticated début recording full of colourful, adventurous writing and top quality playing.
Yuriy Galkin Nonet
“Nine Of A Kind”
(F-ire Presents F-IRE CD 50)
Born in Russia in 1982 bassist and composer Yuriy Galkin is a fascinating figure. Having studied classical piano from the age of seven he took up electric bass at fifteen and quickly achieved a high standard of proficiency on the instrument. A fascination with jazz and the acoustic double bass came a couple of years later.
Galkin studied aeronautical engineering to degree level whilst simultaneously maintaining a professional music career but in 2002 he concentrated on music full time and enrolled on the jazz course at Russia’s Gnessin Musical Academy. He moved to London in 2004 to undertake a postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music which brought him into contact with many of Britain’s leading young jazz musicians.
Many of these became members of Galkin’s Symbiosis Jazz Orchestra which was formed in 2008 and subsequently mutated into this current nonet. Galkin cites such seminal jazz figures as Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, Dave Holland and Wayne Shorter as influences on his writing and it’s clear from the maturity of his own compositions that Galkin has chosen his role models wisely. “Nine Of A Kind” is an impressive and sophisticated début recording and its seven lengthy, tightly orchestrated compositions are superbly played by a stellar band of emerging jazz musicians.
Joining Galkin on acoustic and electric bass, John Turville on piano and Dave Hamblett at the drums is a six piece horn section featuring Freddie Gavita and Richard Turner (trumpets), Jon Stokes (trombone), Dafydd Williams (alto sax), George Crowley (tenor sax) and the versatile Tamar Osborne (baritone & soprano saxes, bass clarinet). The album is given an unwanted poignancy by the fact that this was one of the last recordings made by Richard Turner whose life was tragically cut short during the summer 2011. Galkin also dedicates the album to his former bass tutor Jeff Clyne, a more senior figure but one who also deserved more time.
Galkin’s nine piece band make an impressively full sound that owes something not only to Miles Davis’ “Birth Of The Cool” nonet but also to more contemporary composers such as Mike Gibbs.
Galkin’s composing skills have been honoured by Tim Garland who awarded him first prize in the 2007 UK Composition Competition and by his winning of the 2010 Dankworth Composition Prize for “Evolvent”, the opening track on this current CD.
At over ten minutes in length “Evolvent” lives up to its name with its unfolding moods and textures. The horn voicings are rich and adventurous with instruments often doubling up. Galkin achieves an admirable breadth of colour from the instruments at his disposal with the “rhythm section” an integral part of the collective process. Although the piece is primarily about the ensemble there also some fine individual moments from Turville at the piano, both trumpeters and Crowley on tenor.
“One For Fred” is more gentle and acts as something of a feature for Gavita on flugelhorn, His velvet tones cushioned by Galkin’s lush but thoughtful arrangement. Williams also features strongly with a quietly incisive alto solo and Galkin also gives a demonstration of his abilities as a fluent double bass soloist.
The leader moves to electric bass for the funky and lively “Terminal X”. Exaltant Tower of Power style horns ride a funky backbeat with solos coming from Crowley on tenor, fiery trumpet (presumably Turner this time although the sleeve notes fail to identify the soloists) and Turville at the piano. Also the leader of his own trio Turville is very much the glue that holds the ensemble together and his work, either as soloist or accompanist, is inspired throughout. The pianist also underpins the closing feature for drummer Dave Hamblett.
“Bass Song” is aptly named with the composer’s unaccompanied double bass opening the piece and setting the mood for what is to follow. One of the album’s gentler pieces the tune also includes some delightful work in the lower registers from Osborn, his bass clarinet offset by the sweetness of the muted trumpets. Galkin again exhibits great fluency and dexterity with a lengthy bass solo mid tune and trombonist Stokes also enjoys a moment in the spotlight. The rich, lush textures of this piece make it one of the album’s quiet delights.
The next two items are thematically linked with the sinuous “Episode II” featuring densely knit horn arrangements and a more extended trombone feature. Turville impresses once more as does rising star George Crowley. The more reflective “Episode III” is modally constructed and deploys longer melodic lines. It’s the least cluttered track on the album and in some ways the most adventurous with the soloists being given more space and room in which to express themselves. Reeds, bass and trombone all feature strongly with a nagging horn motif linking the solos. Hamblett’s gently rolling polyrhythms provide pulse and colour throughout.
“Labyrinth” is a suitably upbeat closer that gives the musicians plenty of room to stretch out with Turville and Galkin featuring alongside the horns.
“Nine Of A Kind” is an ambitious album full of colourful, adventurous writing and top quality playing. Galkin will be taking a version of the nonet on tour and the group’s big but highly textured souns should be well worth hearing in a live context. The experienced Steve Fishwick takes over on trumpet from the sadly departed Turner and Galkin’s compatriot Zhenya Strigalev takes over the alto chair from Dafydd Williams.
NINE OF A KIND TOUR
16 Feb 2012 - Pizza Express Jazz Club - Soho, London - 8pm
19 Feb 2012 - The Stables Theatre - Milton Keynes - 8pm
28 Feb 2012 - The Headgate Theatre - Colchester - 8pm
29 Feb 2012 - Jazz at the Lescar - Sheffield - 9pm
1 March 2012 - Leeds College of Music - Leeds - 8pm
2 March 2012 - Matt & Phred’s Jazz Club - Manchester - 9.30pm
19 March 2012 - Southampton Jazz Club - Southampton - 8.30pm
23 March 2012 - Fairfield Halls & Ashcroft Theatre - Croydon - 8pm
More information at http://www.yuriygalkin.com
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