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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Marc Hannaford - Ordinary Madness (Marchon, 2012) ****½

By Stef

Australian pianist Marc Hannaford is part of the forward looking band "The Antiprodean Collective"with Scott Tinkler on trumpet, as on this album. The other musicians are Tim Berne on alto sax,  Simon Barker on drums and Philip Rex on double bass.

The five musicians stepped into the studio last year, improvised these three pieces of music, ranging between twenty and thirty minutes long, and that was it. No edits, no changes. You have an album. It sounds easy, but it is not. The music is of the kind that you don't want to stop listening to. It evolves gently, gradually, with all five musicians interacting as one, creating a common group sound that is at the same time abstract and warm, without harsh moments, yet also without smooth moments, and the result is mesmerising and beautiful.

On "Dolls", the long first track, boppish elements come into play when the tempo picks up, with the improvising lines weaving a fascinating tapestry of intensity. On "Weflux", slowness is of the essence, creating an eery atmosphere of vulnerable fragility, allowing both Tinkler and Berne to profile their unique sound, which is quite a good match, and is kept that way as the tension increases, with heavily accentuated though weird beats of the rhythm section, with the two horns playing simultaneously the whole time. The piece ends with a captivating outro of piano, bass and drums.

The same structure is held on the the title track, now starting with slow trumpet, then again the whole band creates this wonderful blend of different phrases all merging into a strong musical and lyrical coherence, with shifting moods, from playfulness to darkness, all magnificently kept together by Hannaford's orchestrations on his piano.

Without a doubt one of the best albums I've heard this year, taking into account that it's only February.

Listen and buy from Bandcamp

© stef