CD REVIEW: Eyebrow – Garden City

Eyebrow - Garden City
(Ninety and Nine Records. CD Review by Mark McKergow)

Garden City is Bristol-based duo Eyebrow’s fourth album - but the first to see wider attention by appearing on this established New York label. Trumpet, drums and electronics combine to produce bewitching soundscapes, minimal yet rich and moving.

Eyebrow are trumpeter Pete Judge and drummer Paul Wigens. That’s it. Judge is probably better known as one quarter of BBC Jazz Award-winning ambient groove merchants Get The Blessing. He has developed a very personal approach to the trumpet; close-miked, tight, often muted and incorporating electronic pedals and effects. This inevitably brings Miles Davis references into the equation, but Judge’s work has developed over a decade and more to go beyond any simple comparison.

Driving the rhythm, Paul Wigens’ drum patterns are simple yet carefully placed. The whole sound is of much greater richness than the line-up might suggest. The music has clearly been well engineered and produced, but this is no product of studio trickery – the group play the same material live, (link below).

The seven tracks give around 50 minutes of cool and coiled music. When Get The Blessing colleague Jim Barr joins on baritone guitar in the opening track Blind Summit, the twanging yet deep resonance adds another dimension. The lengthy Thaw is another high point, with very gradual evolution and occasional sudden changes that might have Steve Reich glancing over his shoulder. Always the music has tension, drawing in this particular listener.

Garden City is not music to appeal to fans of hard-bop pyrotechnics. It is, however, infused with the ethos of jazz within a contemporary modality. If I was setting up a groovy urban chic environment, Garden City would be very high on the playlist.

LINK: Eyebrow playing live

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