May
4
2018

Jonathan Zwartz album

ANIMARUM

(Planet/MGM)

8/10

Animarum Album frontYou sense again the fastidious distillation of ideas that was a hallmark of Jonathan Zwartz’s two previous albums as leader, The Sea and The Remembering & Forgetting of the Air. Something of the same introversion that imbued those records with such soothing, reflective music is at work, too, but this time the compositional horizons have been pushed back just a little, allowing greater breadth of improvisational contribution from the bassist’s exceptional collaborators.

You hear it on Julien Wilson’s Sound of Love, where Zwartz simultaneously doffs his cap to Charles Mingus’s great ode to Ellington, and gives tenor saxophonist Wilson a vehicle for all the breathy warmth and affecting tenderness he can muster. While remaining restrained, this is a monumental solo, aligning Wilson with the titans of pre-bebop tenor saxophone. The title track and Voyage of the Falcon both contain enthralling dialogues between airiness and tautness, realised by a band that boasts Barney McAll (piano), Phil Slater (trumpet), James Greening (trombone), Richard Maegraith (reeds), Steve Magnusson (guitar), Hamish Stuart (drums) and Fabian Hevia (percussion). And, for those who still care, the sound quality and stereo imaging are exceptional.