The Fresh Sound Ensemble: Common Threads

Predominantly British contingent from the Fresh Sound label play ballad to freebop in tribute to the company's New Talent division


It’s 30 years since Jordi Pujol founded the Fresh Sound label in Barcelona. Initially he was mainly concerned with reissuing historical jazz recordings, particularly ones no longer available, and with restoring and issuing previously unreleased sessions.

Eleven years later he started the Fresh Sound New Talent imprint, documenting the scene centred around Smalls Jazz Club in New York City and releasing albums (often debut recordings) by musicians who went on to earn great acclaim, including Brad Mehldau, Robert Glasper, Kris Davis and Ambrose Akinmusire. Subsequently Pujol included many European and British musicians on the label’s roster.

This album, marking those three decades, focuses on UK-based players who have been connected with the New Talent label, plus Finnish saxophonist Adele Sauros, who solos impressively on Erased, Simplicity and Asimuth. All the tunes featured were composed by members of the group and make up a varied and intriguing bunch (that’s the tunes and the players) ranging from delicate, wistful balladry to rambunctious freebop, (Erased manages to cover several bases) and there’s a scorching collective improvisation by Perrett and Hitchcock on Davis’s piece Do You Like Apples? Some players might get more solos than others but this is very much a band of principals, not stars and back-up: Turville appears on only two tracks (Bin Raccoon and JT and the Planets) but makes his mark there with fine solos.

The Porcupine Studios sound is warm but crisp and clear, doing due justice to these performances, which make up an admirable and well-deserved celebration of the FSNT label.

(1) Erased; 30; (2) JT And The Planets; (1) El Murcielago; Do You Like Apples?; (2) Simplicity; (1) Anita Life; On the Square; Asimuth; (2) Bin Raccoon; (1) El Murcielago (alt take) (68.26)
(a) Steve Fishwick (t); Sam Braysher (as); Ronan Perrett (as, cl); Adele Sauros, Alex Merritt (ts); Michael Chillingworth (ts, bcl); Tom Ollendorff (g); Conor Chaplin (b); Jay Davis (d). London, 11 August 2022.
(b) Fishwick (t); Braysher (as); Perrett (as, cl); Alex Hitchcock (ts, ss); John Turville (p); Chaplin (b); Davis (d). London, 6 October 2022.
Fresh Sound FSNT-645