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Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Mu Quintet - Summit (DIRTH, 2022)

By Irena Stevanovska

Summit is a down-to-earth album, one that gives the feeling of being grounded and accompanied by joyfulness at the same time. Most of us jazz lovers probably got into the world of jazz by listening to sounds similar to the ones immersed in Summit. That is why it serves as a good throwback to the early stages and early days of free-jazz, not only for the listener, but also in the historical sense of jazz itself.

This is the first project of the promising quintet from Leeds, England. It is filled with harmonic wind instruments: tenor sax (Matt Cliffe), flute and bass clarinet (Joel Stadman), also playful piano sounds (Hugh Vincent) and of course the rhythm section, which consists of drums (Simon Henry) and bass (Elliot Roffe).

The idea that most people have about free-jazz often consists of disharmonious frequencies, brash wind instruments coming unexpectedly from every angle beside some sounds that should serve as ambient sounds, often combined with noise. This album sounds like the exact opposite of this, it’s filled with harmonious sounds accompanied by a good flow. But what makes it free is the voluminous improvisation woven into the compositions, which actually shows how good of a combination these musicians are.

It is noticeable that the artists are inspired by musicians such as Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and Pharaoh Sanders throughout the album's many tracks. Some of the tracks are calmer, but you can find ones with moods and vibes that originally helped create free-jazz in its beginnings and helped it form into what it is at the present. The title track 'Summit' captures the essence of the album. Everyone basically leaves their own signature mark on this one, foreshadowing the work that is yet to come from each of them in the future. It is an eleven-minute journey on a pathway where every instrument is doing its own thing, brimming in its own spark, contributing to the collective magic. That is one of my personal favorite attribute of jazz, that the rhythm section is going wherever it wants at its own tempo, as the rest of the instruments could just play anything else, and it would still sound out of this world while being strongly grounded in it. In this track you can hear the individuality of every musician being imprinted during their solo part. You can feel a melancholy piano and saxophone, but would also be able to witness a flute being played more joyfully. So with the whole album, you are basically being taken on a road that takes different turns on many varying heights.

There are four interludes throughout the course of the album, named with roman numbers, each consisting of a solo instrument being played. In these tracks every contributing musician showcases their different character, making us thirsty for more music from them. So all that’s left for us is to enjoy the album and wait for their next jazz journey.


Anonymous said...

Really enjoying this one, thanks for the heads-up Irena!