Wild Card - Organic Riot
(Top End Records TER003CD. CD Review by Peter Jones)
This busy band on the London jazz scene consists of a nucleus orbited by several electrons. The nucleus consists of leader and composer of nearly all the tunes, French-born guitarist Clément Régert, organist Andrew Noble and drummer Sophie Alloway. The talented electrons are Natalie Williams, who sings on two tracks, trumpeter Graeme Flowers, tenor saxophonist Roberto Manzin, trombonist Jerome Harper, percussionists Joaö Caetano and Lili Iontcheva, and French rapper B’loon. Flowers and Manzin contribute to all tracks. The others crop up in various combinations throughout the album.
Régert describes Wild Card’s music as Nu-jazz, combining elements of hard bop, afro, latin and funk. The album has a distinctively live feel, the object presumably being to capture the band’s gigging style in the studio.
The disparate genres tumble over one another in a cheerful riot, hence the album’s title. For example, on the opening track (helpfully called Intro) B-loon raps in French over repeated trumpet/trombone/tenor phrases. It’s slighty funky, slightly samba. Wild Card Thême follows, with acoustic guitar under Flowers’s trumpet melody, again with a samba feel to it. It’s dancey, foot-tappin’ stuff, that makes you think it would be great to see Wild Card live. They feel like a good-time band.
As if in answer to one’s thoughts, next comes Feeling Good, the tune made famous by Nina Simone and since used in many a TV advert. Natalie Williams sings, backed by harmonized horns, then there’s a lengthy guitar solo in two different styles – first picky and funky, then out and out rock.
B’loon comes back for more on the title track. One can’t be sure what he is declaiming about, as the sleeve provides no translation for a monoglot like myself. It certainly sounds rather ominous, partly shouted through a megaphone, as if at a particularly hip Parisian street demo.
Heartbeat is not the theme from the cockle-warming TV series of the same name, but a gentler interlude nonetheless, with another nice solo from Flowers and one from Noble then another from Clément Régert.
One might question the absence of a specialist bass player. This matters less in such straightahead jazz organ trios as operated by Jim Mullen or Nigel Price, but Wild Card are all about groove and feel, and given that, giving the entire bottom end responsibility to the organist results in a slight lack of punch.
Organic Riot is a cheerful, no frills production that no doubt captures the essential magic of the Wild Card live experience.