Philip Clouts Quartet - Umoya
(Odradek Records. ODRCD503. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)
Umoya is a Zulu word meaning "life force", "soul" and "spirit", and this CD positively crackles with all three. It is full of upbeat, jaunty rhythms that make it hard to sit still whilst listening. South African-born pianist Philip Clouts has brought together a young band of lively musicians, featuring Samuel Eagles on saxophones, Alex Keen on electric bass and Dave Ingamells.
Clouts incorporates a lot of different influences into his music - north and west African, European folk musics, gospel - but each seen through a lens of his composer's eye. The effect is to produce an album of variety but unified around a consistent, swinging township bop. The rhythms and riffs are infectious.
Keen and Ingamells maintain a tight groove throughout the record. Eagles' saxophone lines flow extensively in wide ranging solos. Clouts' solos are also full of life: his extended solo on the eastern-infused Amor takes the listener into the depths of the tune.
Despite Clouts' magpie-like eclecticism, this record is firmly rooted in jazz. The influence of other forms is engrained in his compositions, but his unswerving ear for catchy riffs and compelling rhythms has produced an enjoyable series tunes.
Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.