CD Review: The Matt Chandler Group - It Goes Like This

The Matt Chandler Group - It Goes Like This
(Red Diesel Records. RDR010. CD Review by Jeanie Barton)

This slick four and sometimes five piece ensemble are, like me, from Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands. They pump out a powerful collection of original numbers by guitarist Matt Chandler, whose dynamic melodies are syncopated and chromatic. Recently named International ‘Future Guitar Legend’, in a global competition sponsored by Eastman guitars, Matt took to the stage with John Pisano in Los Angeles, but this band are his ‘Homies’ and my, can they co-drive his Cadillac…

These real time live recordings feature plenty of synchronised head-lines from Neil Hunter on keys, Karl ‘Moses’ Bingham on electric bass and Tony Kofi on tenor sax. Jitterbug is a funky rock edged opener featuring a superb sliding electric bass solo from Karl. With the tune line largely focusing on the tensions, this and other tracks could well become new bebop classics.

The sound certainly isn’t simplistic but it is always swinging; Uptown and Strays Inexplicably have a smooth sixties vibe, the latter combining the double bass and Hammond organ sound, which makes me want to light up a fag and groove with my beatnik buddies. My dancing feet are not deterred by the sexy Bossa jive of Before and After, which showcases the subtleties of Neil and Matt’s playing as they weave out solos almost seamlessly across one another, never stepping on each other’s toes.

Down the Stairs is perhaps the most powerful number, opening as a Latin funk track filled with irregular percussive stops and melodic multi-synchronisations it releases into a quick swing and subsequently back and forth between grooves over its seven fiery minutes. Tony Kofi rides the crest of the wave with his burning sax while the current is kept solidly driving throughout by Ian Beestin on drums who plays a blinder from start to finish, both pushing the band to the extreme while simultaneously steadying them - it would send a stadium wild!

Things are cooled down again by Whilst We Wait and Over It? which nod towards the inimitable Antonio Carlos Jobim, the space allowed for Matt’s guitar shows sensitivity from all players. Matt has proven with this CD his mastery of solos and ensemble playing as well as his band leadership, arrangement and composition talents. Now settled in the bosom of the London scene he is rapidly gaining popularity and has undoubtedly got big things ahead of him, but I’m sure he won’t forget his guys from back in da ‘Robin’ hood!

Matt Chandler will be playing the material from this album at forthcoming appearances at the 2014 Manchester (24 July with Matt Ratcliffe organ and Eric Ford - drums) and Ealing (27 July with Jason Simpson - bass and Sophie Alloway - drums,) Jazz Festivals 

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