The London-based, internationally constructed Phoenician Blinds are steadily becoming a mainstay of the current jazz scene, their music a winning combination of modern jazz performance, hard-hitting grooves and exploratory cinematic compositions.
Their melodies are all strong and punchy, often featuring unexpected hooks and abrupt endings, led from the front by saxophonist Julian Knapp from Germany forming a strong partnership with pianist Tom Sochas from France.
The keening saxophone is well supported by the pianist’s more melodic piano. Everything is anchored nicely by Italian drummer Filippo Giangrande, in sync with the only Brit, bassist Oli Cross.
So far, so good, for this is a busy quartet with a lot to say. Unfortunately, they often try to say too much. The simple jazz-funk of Pineapple, for example, soon turns unnecessarily complex, while Knapp’s sometimes overwrought contributions can bring a piece to a sudden halt midway, as on the opening Bodana Bazi and again on Burn It Down, although he redeems himself on his perfectly paced slow solo on Shape Of Things To Come.
It is as if in trying to prove themselves the group loses its focus and overcomplicates each song, notably on the stop-start shuffle of Rush Hour – but perhaps that is intentional! – and on the slow, soulful burn of Rhododendron, which is suddenly upturned by Sochas’s misplaced honky-tonk piano solo.
Perhaps I am just saying that there is too much to listen to here in barely half an hour, a problem which inevitably disappears when this music is performed live.
Hear/buy Phoenician Blinds: The Sight, The Seer And The Seen at phoenicianblinds.bandcamp.com
Bodana Bazi; One Step Away; Pineapple; Hipperlude Pt 1; Rush Hour; Rhododendron; Burn It Down; Hipperlude Pt 2; Ballad For Chap; Shape Of Things To Come (38.52)
Tom Sochas (p, elp, syn); Julian Knapp (ts, ss); Oli Cross (elb); Filippo Giangrande (d, pc). London, c. 2019.
624453 Records DK