Jim Blomfield Trio: Strange Beauty [Every Way OK]

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Blomfield is the regular pianist with the excellent Andy Hague Quintet, of which I have written approvingly in JJ previously. For this, his own trio’s second album, he has chosen to explore his interest in electronics, sound-design and field recordings whilst preserving the virtues of the classic piano-bass-drums format.

Apart from Schumann’s Intermezzo all the pieces were written by Blomfield. He has two autistic sons and, looking back on the development of this album he feels that he was, perhaps unconsciously, trying to give the non-verbal youngsters a voice and to make connections with the isolating condition.

If any of the above suggests this album might be heavy-going or over-earnest, it isn’t. The tunes comprise a good mix of moods and approaches.

The opening track begins with an eerie electronic-sounding passage, which is apparently a loop of an old recording of one of Blomfield’s sons on a squeaky swing … though I’d have guessed it was achieved through scraping the piano strings and cymbals. This soon gives way to gently rippling descending figures before the melody unfolds. It’s a fine start, the intensity gradually building without ever losing the piece’s essential gracefulness.

Lung Rebellion opens with agitated figures before developing into a free-flowing, dancing tune. The trio plays as tight as you like, but can sound voluptuous too, as on their interpretation of the Schumann piece. Scene And Heard, centred on synthesised strings and the sound of Cretan goat-bells, is the first of three “vignettes” that use electronic elements and field recordings, the others being Boarded Up and the enchanting Stillness In The Sadness. Bits And Pieces and Mellow Drama are rock flavoured, though the latter opens with a gentle piano passage before bass and drums prompt a shift up-tempo. Full Circle (which nicely spotlights Wijetunge’s acoustic bass), Every Way OK, Free Fall and Buddha In The Barcode are the “purest” jazz pieces, with attractive melodies developed skilfully.

Buy the album CD or download via Bandcamp. For more info on Jim Blomfield and the trio visit the website. Watch Jim Blomfield Trio videos on YouTube.

Discography
Strange Beauty; Lung Rebellion; Intermezzo; Scene And Herd; Bits And Pieces; Mellow Dreams; Full Circle; Bearded Up (Stranger Beauty); Every Way Ok; Free Fall; Stillness In The Sadness; Buddha In The Barcode (54.39)
Blomfield (p, elp, elec); Roshan “Tosh” Wijetunge (b, syn-b, elec); Mark Whitlam (d, glock, d prog). Box, Somerset 2018.
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