Laura Jurd – Landing Ground (2012)
There is something really exciting in British Jazz at the moment. I have recently reviewed albums by Shatner’s Bassoon, Get The Blessing, Nostalgia 77 And The Monster, GoGo Penguins, TG Collective, Troyka and Portico Quartet, and each of them shows a great deal of innovation. And now we have this fantastic album.
This is trumpeter Laura Jurd’s debut album, recorded while still at Trinity College Of Music at the age of 21 and under the banner of the Chaos Collective, which she also co-founded. Here, Jurd is with her regular bandmates and Chaos Collective co-founders, Corrie Dick (percussion) and Elliot Galvin (piano); as well as regular member of her quartet, Conor Chaplin (bass). But not content with a quartet sound, she has enlisted the assistance of Ben Davis (cello) and three of the Ligeti Quartet (Mandhira de Saram and Patrick Dawkins: violins; and Richard Jones: viola) and that’s where it gets really exciting.
In 1957, composer Gunther Schuller coined the term Third Stream to describe an incipient genre of music which was equally jazz and classical. Sadly, it has not had the popularity of other forms of jazz; but here, on Landing Ground, I can think of no better term to describe this album.
Opener Flight Music starts with a kind of Reveille, between piano and trumpet, then echoed by the strings, which gives a distinctive classical feel to the track, however, the piano supported by the bass gives a jazz underline, before a fantastic trumpet solo completes the track. The next track is the first of three duets on the album, in which Jurd, in turn plays improvised pieces with Davis, Galvin, and then Dick. Although these are only short interlude pieces, the inventiveness of cello, piano and percussion against Jurd’s fantastic trumpet is outstanding. Happy Sad Song is a beautiful evocative piece; Galvin’s piano gently cascades like a brook providing an almost indifferent backdrop to the rest of the group, as they attempt to describe both joy and melancholy simultaneously through clever musicianship. The album closes with The Cross Atlantic-Antics Of Madame Souza, a gloriously dark and more experimental piece than the rest of the tracks; it has some great freak out moments, as well as interesting and playful interactions between all the players.
This is a seamless combination of jazz and contemporary classical, a true modern third stream classic; it is truly exciting and shows the players to be talented and innovative musicians of the highest order. Laura Jurd is an exciting talent and, if this debut is anything to go by, will be one of the greats of modern jazz.
Favourite tracks: Duet I, The Cross Atlantic-Antics Of Madame Souza, Flight Music
Spotify link: Laura Jurd – Landing Ground