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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tom Arthurs/Jasper Høiby/Stu Ritchie - Explications (Not Applicable, 2008) ***½

This is British trumpet-player Tom Arthurs' first trio release without a harmonic instrument, giving an even more fruitful environment for his abstract and complex approach to musical composition. He is accompanied by Jasper Høiby on bass and Stu Ritchie on drums. You don't often here a continuous thematic flow, rather, the music jumps and down with frenetic energy, sudden twists and turns, repetitive phrases which at close listening are not all that repetitive, stops and starts, angular changes, high intervallic jumps ... All three musicians are sufficiently skilled to negotiate even the most unexpected turns in the road, and often at high speed and in unisono. That approach often gives a roller-coaster effect, yet the downside of the absence of a continuous rhythmic bass-line or vamp results in an all too cerebral feel, creating a sense of emotional distance. Dave Douglas often comes to mind, not only in terms of trumpet sound, but also in his approach, although Arthurs definitely does not copy him, therefore this music is too specific, and he is clearly managing to create his own recognisable tone and musical voice. The band is undeniably very skilled, if they now could get a higher level of emotional power, they could become really great.

Listen and/or download from eMusic.