CD Review: Robert Mitchell 3io - The Embrace

Robert Mitchell 3io - The Embrace
(3io Records 3IOCD001. CD Review by Chris Parker)


A glance at the composing credits for this, the 3io's second album (their first, The Greater Good, won a Gilles Peterson Worldwide Award for Best Jazz Album in 2009), might suggest that The Embrace is a
wildly heterogeneous affair.

Beginning with an Aphex Twin cover ('Alberto Balsam'), and including material by Swedish electronica group Little Dragon ('Twice'), an original with African inspiration (the title track, written for Robert Mitchell's father) and the band's core nervily percussive compositions before finishing with a visit to Robert Schumann's 'Traumerei', the album should, by rights, resemble nothing so much as a magpie's nest, given its apparently promiscuous borrowing from all quarters.

Instead, it coheres impressively, courtesy of the consistency and power of the 3io's approach, memorably summed up in two telling phrases from previous reviews: 'Mitchell [ ...]mprovises in unexpectedly juxtaposed motifs rather than long postbop lines' (John Fordham) and '[the 3io merges] the angular voicings and textures of contemporary classical music with the trance-like funkiness of the UK's urban music underground' (Selwyn Harris).

Although this restless, probing energy is as traceable to the utterly contemporary-sounding drumming of Richard Spaven as to the often exhilarating pianistic virtuosity of Mitchell himself, it is perhaps the
intensity of the overall group interplay (Tom Mason providing the perfectly complementary 'cushion' for the other two with his generous bass sound) that is ultimately responsible for the consistently arresting and
intriguing nature of the 3io's music.

London Dates:

Oct 6th: Rays, Foyles, Charing Cross Road, 6pm
Oct 13th Vortex
Nov 12th London Jazz Festival - RFH Ballroom - Jazz Line-up (Radio3) - 4pm

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