When they let rip... Led Bib pack a formidable punch.
John Eyles 2009-05-28
Led Bib’s fourth album builds on the merits of their previous releases and of their dynamic live performances. The quintet is in the tradition of bands that owe as much to rock music as to jazz. Bursting with controlled power, Sensible Shoes should bring them the international recognition they deserve.
When they let rip with their combination of twin alto saxophones, keyboards, bass and drums, Led Bib pack a formidable punch. The strength of this album is that they do not constantly batter the listener. Contrasting their power with more reflective interludes makes that punch more potent when it arrives.
The opening track Yes Again has a gentle keyboard intro that builds atmosphere until the whole band steams into a driving riff propelled by the bass and saxophones. With ample solo space for Toby McLaren’s Fender Rhodes and the saxes, it makes an effective showcase for the band’s strong points.
The sound of saxophonists Chris Williams and Pete Grogan is Led Bib’s hallmark. The two altos frequently work in tandem as a horn section but both are also fluid, confident soloists. For jazz diehards, their presence will give the band enough credible jazz content to offset its rockier elements.
On past albums, Led Bib have covered diverse compositions by Erik Satie, Talking Heads and David Bowie. This time out all the pieces were composed by band members. The results fully justify that decision, particularly the three mellower tracks Early Morning, Water Shortage and the outstanding 2.4.1 (Still Equals Nothing).
Since 2000, London has welcomed a new wave that fuses jazz with other music. As well as Led Bib, its most notable bands include Acoustic Ladyland, Basquiat Strings and Polar Bear. This has been a fresh breeze that has opened up the London scene, bringing novel approaches and ideas.
Many of these bands seem poised to move on to greater things. The release of Sensible Shoes surely puts Led Bib in pole position.