Together, As One is the debut album of Laura Jurd’s new band Dinosaur. And what an album!
The wunderkind trumpeter is joined by fellow composer, innovator and mould-breaker Elliot Galvin on Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ. We recently reviewed Galvin’s ‘audaciously accomplished’ album, Punch (Edition Records), on these pages. The quartet is completed by Conor Chaplin (electric bass) and Corrie Dick (drums). Jurd is, along with Galvin and Dick, a founder member of the Chaos Collective, a loose cooperative of musicians that showcases the work of young improvisers and composers.
Laura Jurd is a winner of a BBC New Generation Artist Award and the 2012 Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Jazz Award. She was also a recipient of the Parliamentary Jazz Award 2015. Bet you didn’t know that the UK has an All-Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group. That could never work here as there are some in the Dáil who still consider jazz to be the Devil’s music!
Jurd’s personality is written all over this album, albeit in barely visible ink! She threads lightly as she goes allowing time for the music to breathe and develop. The narrative is unhurried and yet the story will be told. Her classical influences shine through with shades of Bartók, Stravinsky, Ligeti and Messiaen.
A music fan puts it more simply on the band’s Bandcamp page: “Pretty much everything I love about jazz without any of the stuff that annoys me.”
The album opens with Awakening, a hushed affair with a simple, almost tribal, repetitive motif, a lick of percussion, flutterings, wind-sounds and avian-like trumpet trills, and some electronic trickery bubbling under the surface. Scene set the plot develops with soft-blown trumpet and shimmering keyboards. The sound builds with bass and percussion, neither forced. Building, building, but ever so slowly. It’s about pacing. And there’s that hypnotic motif again.
And so it goes. The whole thing is handled with a lightness of touch, even a sense of fun, that belies the prodigious talent of these young trail-blazers. The album flows with an ease that suggests it is a thing pre-formed, of every age and no age, forged in Promethean fires. There is a seamless symbiosis at play here.
Hear this commonality of purpose on ‘Living, Breathing’ with its insistent synth rep intro coloured by fluttering bass and pulsing Hammond, trumpet low and slow before the rhythm starts to build, driven by hip-shakin’ Latin percussion. The subsequent track ‘Underdog’ takes us deeper into Fusion territory driven by a reverb-drenched Fender Rhodes.
‘Extinct’ is the longest, and possibly the best, track on the album. The interplay of Hammond, bass and the lazy drum slap is mildly suggestive of The Doors song ‘The Wasp (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)’. While Elliot Galvin lays down the bones of this story Laura’s trumpet brings it to life, soaring, stuttering and slurring as though possessed by the spirit of Lee Morgan. Instant classic.
The album finishes with the reflective and gorgeous ‘Interlude’. Time is running down. The trumpet takes centre stage. Everything is muted. This is a quiet goodbye. Delicate as a butterfly kiss.
As a composer Laura Jurd effortlessly combines harmony with dissonance, traditional with avant garde. This can be heard on her debut album, Landing Ground (2012), and the follow-up, Human Spirit (2015). Her former trumpet teacher Chris Batchelor sums it up thus: “It’s easy for skilful musicians to hop from one genre to the next. But the awareness and technique to really mix things is rare.”
Quincy Jones said of trumpet player Clifford Brown: “It takes a young musician many years to rid the mind of clichés and to unscramble the millions of young ideas into what it takes to make a mature and original musical influence.” With this album Laura and her colleagues are displaying a maturity and originality way beyond their tender years. Or it may be that the Chaos Collective mindset encourages greater innovation and flexibility among individuals as they strive towards a common goal.
Together, As One is a wonderfully accomplished piece of work. It is yet another indication, if one were needed, that Edition Records really has its finger on the pulse when it comes to spotting and nurturing new talent. If you want to hear where jazz music is at right now, start here!