Mercury nominated jazz quintet’s latest is a thing of unfettered joy.
Sid Smith 2011
Much like their 2009 album, the Mercury Prize-nominated Sensible Shoes, the latest record from this London-based quintet shows their appetite for confrontational hit-and-run jazz-rock remains undiminished.
With music mostly composed by drummer Mark Holub, they don't so much play these tunes as go out with them for a wild bender of a weekend that is riotous, occasionally over the top but, mostly, a ton of fun.
The alto saxes of Pete Grogan and Chris Williams provide powerful lines of attack, delivering swirling melody, acerbic harmony and free-ranging solos with unbelievable bite and gusto.
There are some moments of fascinating contrasts. Shapes & Sizes initially conjures up the incidental music from an imaginary low-budget spy thriller before morphing into a hurtling three-chord thumper that wouldn’t sound out of place at a Hawkwind gig.
Throughout, Liran Donin’s electric bass work frantically darts in and out of the stop-start furore, whilst keyboard player Toby McLaren generates an infectious ring-modulated dottiness, with added pointillist flurries that sting and etch.
Whilst undeniably fresh, Led Bib also evoke the turbulent firepower of John Stevens' mid-1970s Vertigo-label outfit, Away, who delivered a similarly feisty blowing often underpinned by a cracking backbeat. There’s also the latent prints of old Nucleus albums from the same period to be found on tracks such Is That a Woodblock? and the bass-driven ascending drama of Little x.
The biggest difference between that kind 70s jazz-rock and this 21st century hybrid is a desire to be less convoluted, and more direct in its delivery. That’s not to imply any lack of sophistication or ambition here. The squalling fury that steers the anthemic Winter to its savage and satisfyingly cathartic conclusion is one of the most defiantly uplifting things you’ll hear this year.
Flash, brash and brimming with an irrepressible anarchic vigour, more than anything, Bring Your Own is a thing of unfettered joy.