Wild Card: Cabin 19 Fever

London-based French guitarist Clément Régert leads his trio and more new guests in a dynamic mix of Afro-Cuban jazz, soul, rock and funk


London-based trio Wild Card comprises French guitarist and band leader Clément Régert, Australian organist Andrew Noble and Brit drummer Sophie Alloway. Cabin 19 Fever is the band’s sixth release. The trio invites an increasing number of guest artists every time they issue an album. This time there are 14 who feature in varying permutations on each track.

The album is a dynamic mix of Afro-Cuban jazz, soul, rock and funk. All numbers apart from two have been composed by Régert. He wrote Olympus after a magical hike on the eponymous mountain in Greece. Along with the core trio the track features Graeme Flowers, Binker Golding, Trevor Mires and Snowboy Mark Cotgrove.

Definitely Maybe reflects the uncertainties and false hopes experienced during the pandemic. Mercy Street is a take on Peter Gabriel’s 1986 album track which in turn was motivated by Anne Sexton’s poem. This is followed by Tweenies, based on the pre-teen mood swings of Régert’s 12-year-old daughter. The title track is a word play on the Covid-19 virus and the resulting lockdown during which his two teenage daughters were stuck at home.

The haunting melody of Aleppo Express, featuring Marcus Strickland on soprano sax, was inspired by the tale of a young friend who escaped war-torn Syria to seek refuge in London.

Deception stems from when the guitarist was loading a van in order to travel to a festival gig. The door to his flat was left open during the process and when he returned he found a strange woman there. She claimed to be from a charity collecting clothes and said she’d mistakenly entered. Régert let her go but later found she’d stolen his car keys, house keys and wallet. The final track, I87, is about a road trip that he took on the interstate highway from New York to Montreal.

All the musicians on this high-energy album are at the top their game and it’s a cracker! Incidentally, as with all Wild Card releases to date, the cartoon artwork on the smart, glossed-card CD cover is by the excellent Fung Voon Him You Ten.

Olympus; Definitely Maybe; Aleppo Express; Mercy Street; Tweenies; Copycat; Cabin 19 Fever; Deception; Georgie Porgy; I87 (38.18)
Clément Régert (g); Andrew Noble (org, kyb); Sophie Alloway (d). Guests: Imaani (v); Graeme Flowers, Charlie Porter, Maurice Brown (t); Binker Golding, Leo Richardson, Paul Booth (ts); Jim Knight (as); Marcus Strickland (ss, ts); Trevor Mires, Rosie Turton, Dennis Rollins (tb); Snowboy Mark Cotgrove, Karl Vanden Bossche (pc). London, February 2022 & 2020/2021.
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