RAINY DAYS RECORDS 13th March 2020
Jazz is experiencing a major resurgence at the moment, thanks partly to the burgeoning London scene and the enthusiasm of the students at specialist colleges like Leeds. Jazz drummer Moses Boyd has seen regular radio airplay and sold out gigs this month. JZ Replacement ride that wave and get results. This album is busy, fun and fascinating.
Combining jazz, break-beat and off-kilter sax honking, the album is a lot of fun. The project is international: saxophonist Zhenya Strigalev and drummer Jamie Murray. Did you notice? It’s a duo. That’s unusual and doubly so, given the recent successes of the aforementioned Moses Boyd and Steven Binker with Binker and Moses. Breathe a sigh of relief; it’s not a copy-cat project. Where Binker and Moses could be spacious and Binker’s tone frequently Coltrane-ish, JZ Replacement are very full and frantic and sax tones trend more towards the free sounds of Ornette Coleman. Add to that some bass sounds that become more prominent after the opening couple of numbers, and the effect is very different, with a slight flavour (in Displacement A) of Happy Hardcore.
As the album progresses into Five Cymbals For Jamie, the band becomes a clear trio with some low bass from Tim Lefebvre. That track shows some excellent separate playing and you can marvel at each individual instrument, improvising collectively. Occasionally the sax goes a bit Be-Bop and sometimes things slow down, like on the big-stepping Guilty Look 3. It creates enough variety for the trio sound to stay fresh but accessible. Like its predecessor, Take The JZ Train, Tubuka starts out slow but instead of going bonkers in its noodling, honking atop free-styling drums and super-steady bass line, it steers a steadier, more spacious line while the drums get their head at the same time as the sax. That sax just can’t stay still and the overall improvisational energy means these tunes aren’t deep and meaningful. But they are interesting examples of collective creation, listening and response and reward multiple listens.