John Martin Quartet - Dawning
(F-IRE CD 40. CD Review by Chris Parker)
This debut recording from composer/saxophonist John Martin comes recommended by Kenny Wheeler ('a lovely album with all the players sounding very comfortable with the music') and Iain Ballamy ('honest, cohesive and sophisticated'), and the former's lyrical fluency and the latter's rapturous intensity are indeed defining features of Martin's music.
Although there are elements of the eclecticism characterising contemporary London-based jazz discernible throughout Dawning, the overall impression is of a quintessentially 'European' sound, a limpid sincerity often associated with folk music and a slightly wistful melancholy its chief ingredients. Martin's is an affecting, attractively fragile approach (not unlike Ballamy's), perhaps more effective when he plays multi-textured tenor rather than the less overtly nuanced soprano, but which imparts considerable warmth and emotion into both his multi-hued
pieces ('Moving On', which moves easily between what Martin himself terms 'elements of gospel, afro and jazz') and his more straightforwardly emotive compositions ('Quiet Song', a lullaby for his sister).
His band, pianist Jonjo Grisdale, bassist Tim Fairhall and drummer Andy Ball, acquit themselves well throughout a varied programme, Grisdale in particular proving a suitably mellifluous and thoughtful soloist, his combination with Martin occasionally bringing Keith Jarrett's 'Belonging' band to mind.
As Ballamy points out, the John Martin Quartet, on this evidence, is 'a band to listen out for in 2011 and a credit to the F-IRE Collective'.
Dawning is available from jazzcds.co.uk