John Pope Quintet: Citrinitas

For once, the press release does not exaggerate. The music from bassist Pope's band is indeed 'raucous and fiery, agile and hard-swinging'


Often the press release attached to new releases is high on overstatement and exaggeration. On this occasion it is difficult not to concur with the description of John Pope’s music as being “raucous and fiery, agile and hard-swinging” for that is exactly what it is, and deserving to be heard on a wider scale.

From the opening of Free Spin the listener could easily think he is being drawn into a potential “squeak and howl” arena but this is soon disproved as we progress through the original material. It’s all supplied by the bassist and leader and clearly constructed, albeit containing passages of free or free-ish improvisation.

Collective passages are interweaved with adventurous solos and unexpected themes or riffs, progressing into exchanges between individual instruments; the majority of the time Pope’s big bass sound is a reassuring anchor. Drummer Hunter takes a highly contemporary approach to his kit, never stating the obvious, keeping the music mobile throughout.

It would be invidious to single out any of the horn players, all of whom acquit themselves admirably from gun to tape, but what a pleasure to hear the clarinet used in this most modern of settings.

Free Spin; Through The Earth; Shadow Work; A Procession Of Heads; World Dancer; Hiba; Quantum Stepper; Shiryo (58.49)
Pope (b, pc); Jamie Stockbridge (as, bar); Faye MacCalman (ts, cl); Graham Hardy (t, flh); Johnny Hunter (d, glockenspiel). Newcastle Upon Tyne, 17 & 18 2023.
New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings NEWJAiM17