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Django Bates Spring Is Here Shall We Dance Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

The essence of the spring season has been bottled in all of its barely containable...

Martin Longley 2008

If the title invitation proffered by Mister Bates is taken up, it can only be tackled by dancers with either a.) an extreme degree of pedal dexterity, or b.) an extreme degree of inhibition-eroding imbibing. Yes, Django returns, with his usual level of dilute-to-taste density. He's finally completing his long-running seasonal sequence of albums with this slightly delayed Spring.

Jazz On 3 presenter Jez Nelson forewarned his listeners that this album (as expected) will not be to all tastes. The Bates contents can often be divisive, his style so individualist and extreme that he often plants folks firmly in love or hate camps. Overloaded with activity, these pieces are simultaneously hook-filled and defiantly uncompromising, with regular singing collaborator Josefine Lindstrand doing much to welcome uncertain ears. Bates digs compression of everything, rarely allowing a soloist to simply solo, but always stringing such self-expression through a maze of hyperactive themes, constantly in motion.

Lately residing in Copenhagen, Bates has formed Stormchaser, a large young band that rehearses weekly, and has a residency in the city's Jazz House. Hence their intimate grasp of these inner Django workings. They maintain slickness at the same time as keeping hold of a slippery sense of anarchy. The legacy of Brazilian tinkerer/composer Hermeto Pascoal looms large, but whose are these many souls, flying past at a kaleidoscopic rate? There whooshes Frank Zappa, and here land a sweetly scatting Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, with slap-happy bongos spilling out of old Edmundo Ros sleeves. Was that Keith Tippett's Centipede, in all its massed choral majesty? Could that be the kitchen/garage clatter of Spike Jones & His City Slickers? And meet The Residents, standing right next to The Smurfs. Bates is funky and tuneful, with piled-up vocal choruses repeating compulsive (or annoying) lines, and most certainly, the essence of the spring season has been bottled in all of its barely containable vigour.

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