Phil Bancroft Quartet: Headlong

Saxophonist Bancroft takes the considered path through the crowded world of modern jazz with Mike Walker, Reid Anderson and Thomas Strønen

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In the densely over-populated contemporary jazz environment there seems to be an understanding that measured, considered music marked by varying degrees of polite virtuosity and the fleet-footed dodging of risk is, for want of a better way of putting it, the way (or at least a way) to go. Given the hothouse rate of development of jazz and creative improvised music this is perhaps an inevitable outcome: so much ground has been covered that there’s little ground left to discover.

The first issue raised above is relevant to this album. Even in its most animated moments – Goes Around Comes Around being both a case in point and an unusually pertinent title in itself – the music has about it the air of being carefully measured, as if by some act of collective will the avoidance of anything which might alienate a relatively conservative audience is diligently avoided.

That said, the level of subtle but far from unprecedented interplay between the quartet’s members is a kind of muted pleasure, as on Headlong, which incidentally consists of music quite at odds with the title. Bancroft and Walker muster some tonal shades of the pastel variety and ECM-style atmospherics are by implication woven through proceedings.

If Red Cow Flying comes with titular implications then these are borne out in relatively jaunty style. Anderson and Strønen go about some rhythmic business in a manner suggesting that they want to cut loose, but the overall mood is once again inoffensive to the point where this sufferer of jaded ear syndrome, which incidentally isn’t a condition as far as I’m aware, wouldn’t be able to pick this music out in that quaintly old fashioned scenario known as a blindfold test.

Discography
Golden Section; Goes Around Comes Around; Samson Sam Song #1; Boip Avoiding; Double Trouble; Headlong; Red Cow Flying; Groove; Samson Sam Song #2 (54.09)
Bancroft (ts); Mike Walker (elg); Reid Anderson (b); Thomas Strønen (d). No location or date given.
Myriad Streams 002