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Free Nelson Mandoomjazz: The Organ Grinder [Digipak]

Track List

>Open the Gate
>You Are Old, Father William
>Woods, The
>Calcutta Cutie
>Bicycle Day
>Inferno, Pt. 1
>Always Go Left in the Maze

Album Notes

Personnel: Rebecca Sneddon (saxophone); Colin Stewart (electric bass); Paul Archibald (drums, percussion).

Audio Mixer: Seamus Conacher.

Recording information: The Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland (01/2016).

Photographers: Luc Klein ; Charlie Wild; Seamus Conacher.

Power trio Free Nelson Mandoomjazz don't fuse jazz and metal; they play it as a single music. As evidenced by their early EPs and debut long-player -- 2015's Awakening of a Capital -- this wasn't always the case. Saxophonist Rebecca Sneddon, bassist Colin Stewart, and drummer Paul Archibald have played loads of gigs in the interim. In addition, each member brings experience from (many) individual projects. Earlier records relied on dense doom metal riffs as a foundational way of articulating groove; it's still there, but now assists in the development of a musical language that allows room for more structure without sacrificing force. These pieces feel through-composed, leaving room for more discernment in free play. The rehearsal and recording space for The Organ Grinder was Edinburgh's Victorian-era Reid Concert Hall. Its high ceilings and natural reverb allowed for new and expansive dynamic elements in the group's collective interaction.

Free Nelson Mandoomjazz aren't always a trio on this date. Trumpeter Luc Klein adds his horn to four tracks -- including an ambitious reading of Horace Silver's "Calcutta Cutie." Trombonist Patrick Darley appears on two, including Klein's compositional contribution, "LORA." There is a newfound confidence in the band's composing. Whether the bandmembers are writing together or separately for one another's instruments, each of these nine originals weaves natural space, groove, and harmonic invention. In "You Are Old, Father William," a subtle sense of swing is revealed. The head shared by the saxophonist and Klein is delicious; Stewart's bluesy vamp and Archibald's ability to stay in the pocket and syncopate make room for Sneddon's short yet far-reaching solo break. "Funambule" develops along a silvery, doomy bassline; the saxophonist begins in abstraction but her lyricism emerges in a mournful ballad. Archibald doesn't merely mark time, but bridges poles of expression as tension increases in the outro.

The drummer helms piano and his kit for the Silver tune. The minor key and Latin rhythm introduce the head. The chorus is staggered just enough to open the track up for dialogue between sax and trumpet. Intense rolling fills and breaks guide it back home. "Bicycle Day"'s hyperkinetic timpani and skittering saxophone lines are nearly eclipsed by Stewart's filthy distorted bass throb. Closer "Om" is soaked in reverb. Archibald plays on the Reid's 21-stop pipe organ. His generative drone hovers and moans as Sneddon exercises her horn's lower register outside the single-chord modal frame; the venue's echo imbues each note with meaning. Stewart's Eastern overtone, multi-string bass patterns interact with the organ's drone until the entire track collapses in the final minutes to a foreboding humming white noise. While more welcoming to jazz fans -- and perhaps the recommended starting place for new listeners -- The Organ Grinder will come as a gift to longtime supporters, and is a giant step forward for Free Nelson Mandoomjazz. ~ Thom Jurek


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