Tag Archives: CD review



Hear and know

4 stars
FWM Records

Mike Nock piano, James Waples drums, Ben Waples double bass, Karl Laskowski tenor saxophone, Ken Allars trumpet

This trio’s first album, An Accumulation of Subtleties, was a triumph, demonstrating on two discs how well the Waples brothers work with Nock’s presence and mastery. Hear and Know is altered radically by the addition of horns — it is fascinating to hear how the “plus” of sax and trumpet influence the character of this album, often expanding the sound to wide vistas of cinematic proportions.

The result is a richly expressive foray into varied moods and styles, making this outing full of interest. The opening title track demonstrates this, moving through intimate piano and bass to sweeping ruminations of brass, with an intricate overlay of bass, before a lively jaunt. The diversity continues with slow, soaring horn interplay in The Sibylline Fragrance, a whole forming from fragments in the melee of Colours, and a minimalist opening stretched in scope by soaring horns in After Satie.

Komodo Dragon is a feast of melodies and conversations with an entree of staccato trumpet and breathy sax, while If Truth Be Known is big, powerful and eventually swinging, underpinned by Nock’s deep, grumblings and topped by strident horns. Gathering intensity is also evident in the closing Slow News Day, suggestive perhaps that some late wire taps eventually produced a front page.

Laskowski and the exciting Allars add a great deal to this collection of Nock originals, though for me it’s not quite enough to top the trio’s earlier Subtleties.

Hear and Know illustrates again that Mike Nock is always on the move and never stuck in the here and now.

File between: Paul Grabowsky, Tomasz Stanko

Download: Colours, If Truth Be Known


This album includes a booklet of photographs taken by Gerard Anderson.



Assaf Kehati Quartet

Assaf Kehati guitar, Alon Farber saxophone, Daniel Sapir bass, Udi Shlomo drums

3 + stars

This is the second album — after A View from My Window — for Israeli-born guitarist Kehati, who has lived in Boston, US, since moving there in 2007 to study at the New England Conservatory. In all seven of his compositions he plays with dexterity, restraint and subtlety in a well balanced quartet with a relaxed, ruminative and at times dreamy disposition.

Kehati’s musings call to mind Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny, combining well with Farber’s drifting notes in the opening Calling Me Home and engaging in some pleasing interplay in Mr Mario, which also features nimble guitar over agile drum work. The slow ballad Tali features Farber’s sax floating and dancing on high.

The longest piece, The Most Beautiful Flower, has unhurried bass and drums working well with guitar before a gradual build in tempo, focus and intensity in which a Farber solo then gives way to sparse guitar before a segue into the dreamy, expansive horizon music of The Snow and the Sun.

Don’t Attack seems to be warding off an onslaught that never arises, this track showing some gain and wane in intensity, but mainly confirming the ensemble’s complimentarity. The album closes with subdued guitar in Invisible Green.

Rather than the devil being in the detail of this album, its intricacy and minutiae are its strengths. If there is a devil, it is in a lack of contrast between the compositions. Kehati’s quartet delivers his material well, communicating with care a mood of gentle introspection that seems to suit contemplation, daydreaming or reverie.

But it is tempting to wish that the ensemble would break out via different compositions or that the guitar and sax would let forth an occasional storm to tell disparate stories or blow some flowers off their stalks.


File between: Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny

Download: Don’t Attack

Assaf Kehati’s website

Kehati’s albums on cdbaby




4 stars

Marc Hannaford piano, Sam Pankhurst bass, James McLean drums

There’s meat in this music as well as in the PDF file that serves as liner notes to this digital only release. But, despite the title’s reference to a carnivorous animal, especially the Tasmanian devil, there is no hint of frenzied tearing at raw flesh.

Rather these eight tracks are evidence of pianist Hannaford’s intelligently analytical, deliberate and sharply focused approach to compositions influenced by his immersion in the atonal and rhythmically complex music of American composer Elliott Carter.

Pankhurst and McLean are perfectly attuned to Hannaford’s intent, delivering the intensity and strength called for at times, while at others exhibiting the reserve and subtlety necessary to provide relief.

This is not music for the faint hearted, yet is far from inaccessible if the listener can give in and let the currents and eddies have full control.

Go with it as you would on a carnival ride that is totally unexpected in its changes of direction and pace, builds expectation through developing patterns of movement, thrills with the robust drive of the chase and slows to periods almost of quiescence and this album will sustain and delight. But struggle against the momentum in a vain search for more easeful and traditional melodies or harmonies and this music will be difficult.

A sense of wry humour is always present. It’s easy to imagine an unfamiliar audience requesting “something we know” and getting track three, Something We Know, or calling for “something we can dance to” and getting the final track, Something We Can Dance To.

One person’s meat is another person’s poison (to use the PC version of the saying), but even musical vegetarians should get their teeth into Sarcophile, provided they are prepared to get a taste for it.


Sarcophile is available through iTunes, Bandcamp and cdbaby

Sarcophile booklet

An image from the downloadable PDF of this album.