Julian Arguelles - Circularity
(Cam Jazz. CAMJ 7872-2. CD Review by Mike Collins)
A propulsive bass riff; skidding, rolling drums; hanging piano chords, a single, repeated note from the tenor and within ten seconds this new recording by Julian Arguelles had this listener’s pulse racing before Triality bursts into life with the theme’s repeated then shifting phrases. The leader’s solo seems to just flow out of the initial statement. The distinctive melodic lines alternating with punchy rhythmic phrases and little swooping bends of notes were instantly recognisable and somehow suggestive of muscularity and vulnerability all at the same time. It was an instant reminder of why he has established such a big reputation over the years and why this release has been keenly anticipated.
It’s just over twenty years since Arguelles recorded his first solo release Phaedrus with almost the same band: John Taylor on piano, Martin France on drums and this time out Dave Holland instead of Mick Hutton. In that time he’s written and recorded with ensembles of all shapes and sizes. This collection of originals is recognisably the same composing and improvising voice, but it has an assurance, authority and ease about that is compelling.
There’s plenty of variety. The bustling mood of the opener gives way to the gently lilting Lardy Dardy, a flowing romantic melody inspiring expansive and lyrical solos all round. The urgent rising and falling phrases of the title track, Circularity, dissolve into episodes that give plenty of space for the band to interact and play off each other. Wilderness Road and A Lifelong Moment are ballads to swoon over, whilst Unopened Letter’s theme and rhythms hint at the Iberian peninsular.
A band comprising players who are themselves significant artists in the development of this music is not itself a guarantor of great music, but this recording doesn’t disappoint. It would be hard to overstate the electricity and groove that the combination of Dave Holland and Martin France bring at whatever tempo and John Taylor’s distinctive touch, elastic phrasing and sublime manipulation of harmony and melody on the fly have rich resources to exploit in these beautifully balanced compositions.
This is jazz from the top drawer. Click play, sit back and prepare to be transported.