Tag Archives: Contemporary classical

Laura Jurd – Landing Ground (2012)

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
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Ludovico Einaudi – In A Time Lapse (2013)

Ludovico Einaudi - In A Time Lapse (2013)

Ludivico Einaudi is an Italian composer and pianist. His compositions are often dark and introspective and, in many ways, he espouses minimalism, which leads to comparisons with Erik Satie, and also, through his use of strings complementing the piano on this album particularly, to Arvo Part. He has composed numerous soundtracks for a wide range of films and TV programmes, including Shane Meadows’ This Is England and Ricky Gervais’s Derek.

Beginning with the calm Chorale, this album is never rushed: violin notes are long, sustained and deliberate, and the piano melodies are ruthlessly explored. Time Lapse adds an element of modern technology, as subtle electronics are added to the mix, though never distracting. Life itself is reflected in the track of the same name as Einaudi’s music inexorably builds and builds through reproduction with variation.

And that is one key factor in Einaudi’s work on this album; the trance-like repetition of a theme in each track. A kind of neo-baroque style, with the intensity building as the track goes on. Brothers is a great example of this; a simple piano lick is played quietly, almost insignificantly, with hints of the repetition coming through the melody and foreshadowing the rest of the track, subtle spiccato strings enter as the melody grinds onwards, increasing in intensity. A beat begins and the piano melody escalates, while the bass notes continue onwards. The beat stops, the strings take the forefront before the beat comes back for a magnificent finale.

Newton’s Cradle shows a darker side to Einaudi’s compostitions, and a more soundtrack-like quality; and Experience exemplifies his style with a fantastically intense crescendo evoking the relentless coming of a high tide, with waves crashing all around; whereas Underwood is a beautifully gentle introspective strings-led piece.

I think fans of the aforementioned Satie and Part would get a lot out of this album, as would those who like the soundtracks of Clint Mansell.

A great album from one of the best composers of our time.

Favourite tracks: Brothers, Newton’s Cradle, Underwood.

Spotify link: Ludovico Einaudi – In A Time Lapse
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