Wandering Monster: Zenna

Compact disc from Leeds-based quintet mixes the reflective and assertive and includes a cover of Jaco Pastorius's Okonkolé Y Trompa


The five members of Wandering Monster hail from the creative music scene in Leeds. The band’s new album, Zenna, follows their self-titled debut release of 2019.

Four of the album’s six numbers have been penned by the band’s leader and bassist, Sam Quintana. The other two are arrangements by him of Okonkolé Y Trompa from Jaco Pastorius’s 1976 solo album and Cowboy from Randy Newman’s orchestral recording of 1968.

Quintana says it wasn’t his intention to write a lockdown album but ultimately much of the music on the CD is a product of a host of emotions he felt at that time. He wanted to challenge himself and the band so as a consequence we hear the ensemble entering previously uncharted territory with free improvisation, minimalism and through-composed music. It’s a mix of off-kilter rhythms, spontaneous collective improvisation, frenetic free soloing and hypnotic vamps.

The album’s compositions and arrangements are inventive and are delivered with aplomb, both collectively and individually, by talented and resourceful musicians. Best of the bunch for me is the melodic Cowboy – it’s a soulful but majestic piece played movingly by Ben Powling on tenor sax and Richard Harrold on piano and emotionally dramatic when the others move in to support.

This is a fairly short album at 38.17. Sound quality throughout is excellent.

A Beautiful Blur; Push It All Away; Zenna; Okonkolé Y Trompa; What We Talked About; Cowboy (38.17)
Ben Powling (ts); Calvin Travers (g); Richard Harrold (p); Sam Quintana (b); Tom Higham (d, pc). Leeds, no rec date given.
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