Leeds-based band Slow Loris have just released a new EP on New Year’s Day, 2021 - Sounds Hoof is definitely a powerful and intense first listen for the new year. Mixing influences from rock, electronic music, jazz and even metal, this EP falls under the ‘alternative’ category; it’s precisely this alternative and experimental approach which gives the EP its emotional intensity and unique musical interest. The band’s name Slow Loris is explained on their Bandcamp - ‘Slow Loris is a small nocturnal mammal, he has a toxic bite, a rare trait among mammals’. The band have chosen a name which reflects their sound: music with a fascinating dark intensity, and a piercing and unexpected bite. As a guitar-heavy band, Slow Loris challenge the expectations of rock and guitar-based music through their irregular time signatures, chromatic electronic elements, and complicated grooves - Sounds Hoof has a lot to offer.
John Pope Quintet’s debut album has just been released in January 2021 – even though the Quintet have played together since 2016, they have never released a group recording. Having performed live at jazz festivals for years and become established in the UK jazz scene, John Pope Quintet’s recorded work is long anticipated. Mixing a love of free jazz, hard bop and 60s avant-jazz, Mixed With Glass is an accomplished live work of incredible proportions. Composed by John Pope himself, each track features something new – moments of tight, soulful ensemble playing mixed with shredding solos, and quiet, melancholic melodies mixed with experimental and avant-garde techniques which seek to undermine the accepted foundations of the music. Mixed With Glass provides some classic swinging grooves with much more adventurous and challenging soundscapes: there’s something for every listener.
Leeds-based band J Frisco make music which is self-proclaimed to be genre-fluid, improvisational and experimental. Listening to their new album Cut Throat for the first time, this sense of experimentalism definitely comes across, alongside the darkness and abruptness of the album’s title. Featuring industrial electronic elements, distorted guitar and lamenting saxophone, this album is definitely a difficult listen in many ways. Yet, J Frisco push the boundaries of music, and of improvisation itself – recording the album in one week, and professing that the trio themselves were unsure what would be produced at the end, reveals their commitment to the practise of experimentation, and their willingness to push the boundaries of musical ideas.
Charlotte Keefe is a trumpeter and flugelhorn player who continues to push the boundaries of the jazz genre – her accomplished tone, understanding of extended techniques, and technical ability allow her to experiment with improvisation more than most. ‘Charlotte Keefe Quartet Live’ is a collection of recordings released in 2020 but taken from a live performance by Keefe’s Quartet at Jazz in the Round back in March 2019. Although these performances are categorised as free jazz and free improvisation, they are by no means inaccessible to the average listener – combining moments of wholeness and unity with moments of disparity and disorientation, Keefe’s Quartet play with our expectations as an audience, and create soundscapes which are both pleasing and challenging for the listener.
We’re big fans of Skeltr - they headlined the festival in 2018 and we managed to squeeze in a show with them at the Kanteena before lockdown hit back in March 2020. So we were pretty excited in the (metaphorical) Lancaster Jazz Festival office to check out their new album, Dorje - and we were far from disappointed.
Dorje is a Tibetan word meaning ‘a ritual weapon symbolising the indestructible properties of a diamond and the irresistible force of a thunderbolt’ - which feels like a grand analogy for Craig’s explosive drumming and Sam’s soaring saxophone.