A terrific set from the 2013 Tampere Jazz Happening. Featuring Peter Evans on piccolo trumpet, John Butcher on saxophone, Frédéric Blondy on piano, Clayton Thomas on bass and Paul Lovens on drums, Anemone are a remarkably cohesive unit. Butcher feels out the space with lowing tenor tones over Thomas's tremulous bass, while Evans tests out the wispy upper frequencies of his trumpet.
A few minutes in and we find Butcher at his jazziest, playing hip, bluesy phrases over Blondy's bass keyjabs and right hand clusters. Lovens damps the drum skins with one hand and taps with the other, sounding like a troupe of tiny clog dancers at one point. As Blondy moves things in a more sinister direction, Evans plays peals of trumpet, warped with strange vocalised effects. Elegant piano chords lead Anemone out of the darkness, with Evans chastely smooching his mouthpiece while Butcher spirals through his soprano's range.
© Stewart Smith - WIRE
The quintet is an international collection of brilliant players, each a member of numerous bands and all who should be more widely heard. Alongside Evans on piccolo trumpet, there is English saxophonist John Butcher on soprano and tenor, French pianist Frédéric Blondy (hear him with Hubbub), Australian bassist Clayton Thomas (check out The Ames Room) and veteran German drummer Paul Lovens (a member of Schlippenbach Trio for the last 47 years).
It's a one piece set only interrupted for the purposes of the LP and is continuously engaging, with every musician constantly shaping the unity and complexity of the experience, crafting a whole as richly poetic and elusive as the title. There are moments when one of the horns will focus the discourse, every member of the group fastening on a kind of trance-like power, often abetted by Lovens' highly effective cymbal work. That it eludes any kind of blow-by-blow description only adds to its cumulative depth and value.
© Stuart Broomer - NYCJR