Brodie West: Meadow Of Dreams

Canadian altoist leads a high-quality, mostly lyrical set that suggests jazz isn't just an American but a North American art

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Except for honorary Americans like Oscar Peterson and Paul Bley, Canadian jazz remains seriously neglected. Brodie West and his cohorts are some of Canada’s top jazz players. West is probably best-known for his work with Dutch punk-jazzers The Ex, in particular with Ethiopian tenorist Getatchew Mekurya. He’s also worked extensively with drummer Han Bennink, and also with Hamid Drake and Achim Kaufmann.

Here, West appears with regular partners pianist Tania Gill, Josh Cole on bass, drummer Nick Fraser and second drummer Evan Cartwright who also plays vibraphone and guitar. Their 2019 ensemble debut Clips gathered very favourable reviews, including from the present writer.

There are moments of discordant abandon, for instance on Inhabit I, but the music is mostly lyrical, and often delicate. On the gorgeously plangent free-tempo Grotto, West shows a Lee Konitz influence I’d not noticed before. The title track that closes the album is a highlight – ballad-like, luminous and haunting. West’s gently edgy lyricism is echoed sympathetically by Tania Gill’s piano and Evan Cartwright’s vibraphone and guitar.

Gill is a highly creative pianist with more than a touch of Lennie Tristano – listen to the latter part of Entrainment, and to her own highly inventive self-released new album, Disappearing Curiosities. These are certainly talents deserving wider recognition. I’d generally argue that jazz is an American art, but maybe one should make that “North American” – Meadow Of Dreams compares with the finest contemporary jazz from New York.

Discography
Entrainment; Fortress; Inhabit I; Grotto; Inhabit II; Inhabit III; Haunt; Meadow Of Dreams (37.04)
West (as); Tania Gill (p); Joshua Cole (b); Evan Cartwright (vib, d, g); Nick Fraser (d). Toronto, 29 February-2 March 2020.
Ansible Editions 003/Astral Spirits AS191