Strata by Ivo Neame
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1. Personality Clash
3. OCD Blues
4. Miss Piggy
5. Crise de Nerfs
6. Eastern Chant
7. Folk Song
Official worldwide release date - June 15, 2015
Known widely for his linchpin roles with Phronesis and Marius Neset, effulgent beacon of contemporary jazz piano, Ivo Neame, takes a side step from his octet and other projects to release this exciting new quintet title Strata. Collaborating again with UK luminaries (including three fellow Whirlwind artists) Tori Freestone (saxes/flutes), Jim Hart (vibraphone), Tom Farmer (bass) and Dave Hamblett (drums), this collection of eight Neame originals gyrates energetically with complex written grooves and varying instrumental colors to spark opportunities for venturous, improvised blowing.
Ivo’s intention for this latest recording – extensively gigged and carefully honed prior to studio time – was to explore harmonic and textural detail in greater depth in order to forge numbers which each take on their own identity. As such the resulting core quintet landscape, augmented by Neame’s sustained synth and accordian layers plus Freestone’s dazzling flute extemporizations, does indeed traverse many different levels.
From the rapid vibraphone swing of 'Personality Clash' and 'Crise de Nerfs', via the crescendoing Weather Reportian synth-and-tenor stature of title track 'Strata', to an effusively hypnotic 'Folk Song', there’s an intensity of sound to savor. Coltrane-imbued 'OCD Blues' is both powerful and mercurial, courtesy of Farmer and Hamblett’s bass and drum agility; and, pared down to piano trio for 'Eastern Chant', the leader is at his searching best. Intriguingly-titled 'Miss Piggy' is, in fact, a finely-measured ballad showcasing the unremitting, resonant inventiveness of tenorist Tori Freestone; and the diaphanous atmospheres of 'Snowfall', enhanced by Hart’s ethereal vibes, are spatially illuminated by exquisitely drifting solos.
At the heart of such vibrancy and diversity is the inquiring, pianistic mastery of Neame, striking richly eclectic seams which, at times, might just as easily suggest Debussy or Stravinsky as the more obvious influences of Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and John Taylor. A player whose style – whether through programmatic or differing improvisatory structures – is certainly distinct amongst today’s jazz pianists, his particular aspiration for Strata is that it might reveal “memorable themes which make an impact on the listener, both musically and emotionally”. Truth is, however many or few layers of creativity you delve into here, this is a significant statement from a premier British quintet... And an enduring listen.
"Ivo Neame's complex compositions and gorgeous arrangements married with his searching yet unequivocal soloing results in an album of exceptional depth and originality, indubitably enhanced by his choice of such a talented coterie of collaborating musicians."
★★★★½ All About Jazz
"What’s here, the state of flux set to one side, is thrusting, exuberant, virtuosic playing, coming out of post-bop acoustic traditions. Neame has the wit and vitality to respond to the wave of energy coming from his band that he himself has set in motion embedded in the hints and clues of his writing."
★★★★ Marlbank (Recommended Release)
"Strata features a singular yet compelling instrumentation."
"Neame is one of the most highly regarded British pianists in his field... stellar quintet."
"[Strata] will give rewards for years to come."
The Jazz Breakfast
"A highly enjoyable album of original compositions."
Bebop Spoken Here
"Neame has a restless imagination as an improviser."
★★★★ Marlbank (Recommended Release)
"A unified set of pieces in contrasting moods and styles... which aims to engage the listener throughout... and it succeeds."
Hi-Fi News 'Album Choice' for September (2015)
"This is a fine and varied selection, all thoughtfully played."
"A towering statement from a venturesome British team... Ivo Neame is, without doubt, an effulgent beacon amongst British contemporary jazz pianists."
"This is a complex and interesting album which rewards repeated listening to discover its depth and subtleties."
Sandy Brown Jazz
"A singular voice and a communal effort from a group of musicians who are shaping the future of British jazz."
★★★★ Irish Times
"Superb new quintet release signals the emergence of a UK-based jazz artist of international quality... Ivo Neame continues on Strata to set new standards for lyrical contemporary jazz in the UK."
"Strata is the gifted Neame's best effort yet to balance the rhythmic back-doubles of latter day jazz composition with the freedoms of improvisation."
★★★★ The Guardian
"What is remarkable about the album is the way that the breadth of influences has been both accommodated and blended to feel natural rather than capricious stylistic shifts."
★★★★ All About Jazz
"There is great subtlety in the combined use of piano, vibes and, on occasion, flute and this is wonderfully illustrated on ‘Folk Song’ with shimmering effect from vibraphonist Jim Hart."
"Fascinating... a clear and sustained statement... A musician whose style - whether through programmatic or deviating improvisational structures - differs significantly from the other jazz pianists of our time."
"Packed with ideas, melodies, resolutions, and their revelations."
Musik an Sich
"Excellent, varied and exciting..."
"Ivo Neame has presented a comprehensive and personalized vision of jazz."
"Energetic and complex grooves and changing timbres prepare the ground for daring improvisations. Neame's eclectic game is reminiscent of Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and John Taylor."
"Multi-layered, intricate compositions... Neame shines not only on piano, but accordion and analog synthesizers."
Sound and Image
"A quintet of exceptional British Musicians."
"Anyone who has admired in Phronesis Neame's piano style, his almost stoic stops, almost erratic chord blocks will find [on Strata] even more powerful expressiveness, with distinctive eclectic moments that are reminiscent of Stravinsky or Debussy, but also show influences of John Taylor or Keith Jarrett."
“[Neame's] pieces are remarkable, his piano solos are pure joy, especially those thoughtful yet purposeful single-note runs: brave, patient and adventurous.”
“Sound images that are full of details and surprises…Fine modern jazz from England.”
“An incredible intensity of sound to enjoy again and again.”
“A work that rewards more than one listen as it gradually reveals all it’s nuances.”
"This kaleidoscopic work is bursting with ideas and displays a fine balance of composition and improvisation."