Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Julian Argüelles - Tetra (2015)

Source & Label: Whirlwind Recorings

Esteemed British saxophonist Julian Argüelles brings his working quartet, Tetra, to Whirlwind in an immersive, hour-long sequence of material written specifically with his colleagues in mind: Kit Downes (piano), Sam Lasserson (bass) and James Maddren (drums).
Known widely as an original member of seminal big band Loose Tubes, as well as for his outstanding compositional and performing involvement with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, smaller creative ensembles have always been close to Argüelles’ heart, previously recording with such luminaries as Mike Walker, Dave Holland, Martin France and the late John Taylor. In this new release, his respect for, and collaboration with, today’s eclectic strain of younger jazz musicians kindles a mutually imaginative spark with an equal emphasis on composition and freedom of improvisation, often melodically or texturally blurring those divisions.
Having already worked successfully with Downes and Maddren, Argüelles knew that they would possess an innate ability to connect with the complexities of his writing, as well as the spirit to soar extemporarily – and bassist Lasserson was discovered as the perfect rounder of this creative circle. Tetra have toured variously over the last three years, developing and shaping their alliance into this vibrant debut recording which ripples and sings with unpredictability and consummate musicianship.At one stage conceived as a continuous suite (and, to some degree, still expressed that way in a live setting), the album’s eight tracks present an absorbing interconnected flow of grooves and ballads – from the rapid Portugeuse-influenced intensity of “Hurley Burley”, via smouldering “Yada Yada” which increasingly surges to latitudinous, gritty tenor, through to the charming soprano playfulness of “Hocus Pocus”. Argüelles’ writing revels in the thrill of diversity, the serene Spanish lilt of ten-minute “Nitty Gritty” contrasting markedly with the wide-swinging ebullience of “Iron Pyrite”; and beautiful, melodious “Asturias” has its origins in the leader’s transcriptions of solo vocal folk music from north-west Spain.
Kit Downes’ summation of the bandleader’s music – “there’s a lot of room for being myself, and being creative in it” – speaks volumes about Argüelles’ empathy with the distinguished musicians he surrounds himself with, especially when he also challenges with so many technically tricksy grooves and ideas. As Maddren puts it, “His compositions are so strong… they really affect and influence the way you improvise, which I find really exciting.”
This is just the beginning, as Julian Arguëlles has ambitions for Tetra to evolve, looking to achieve music which is accessible yet multi-layered, with real depth and interest which might engage intellectually and/or emotionally. “First and foremost, I’m an improviser, and this is a band I feel very comfortable with.”

01. Hugger Mugger 01:43
02. Yada Yada 06:13
03. Hurley Burley 07:38
04. Hocus Pocus 07:00
05. Nitty Gritty 10:36
06. Asturias 08:16
07. Fugue 05:40
08. Iron Pyrite 10:23

Julian Argüelles - saxophones
Kit Downes - piano
Sam Lasserson - bass
James Maddren - drums