Thing of the Day
Refreshing fifth album from the lean London jazz band who seriously rock...
February 26th 2011
LED BIB – Bring Your Own (Cuneiform)
Led Bib’s take on what sounds like genuine jazz feels refreshing, liberated and flowing, without ever sounding like anything but ‘proper’ jazz. Maybe it's their attitude that allows it to breathe in such an inviting way - they sound so refreshing because it comes so naturally to this relatively young band (well, young in established jazz circles).
There’s a freedom here, a flow that anyone can grasp, an antidote to the times that jazz to outsiders can seem stiff and pompous, full of some kind of self importance as it looks down its nose at everyone and everything else. Led Bib invite everyone in, keep it easy even while building edgy, tense, slightly dark passages - it feels right, they make you want to be part of it. And they don’t drown it in cleverness, they can certainly play and they’re extremely tight but they keep it kind of simple, they keep if accessible, they keep flowing - they rock! Led Bib are not Ornette Coleman - the tunes are laid out simply enough to get an ear around without much bother; nothing too hardboiled, nothing too difficult to catch, yet still smart and a bit dirty and a little bit angular, and everything knitted together by a grooving, cajoling, acrobatic bass that can often be described as magnificent. It's a neat place to be, a satisfying place... uneasy easy listening, or easy uneasy listening? Either way, Bring Your Own seems to be getting played around here, keeps hogging the speakers for our listening pleasure... high praise.
Relaxed experimentation, twists and turns you can live with, detailed
and textured enough to make you unconciously reach out to flip that
virtual vinyl Vertigo swirl label over to start yet again... Yes,
Led Bib have a lot of sound in common with 70s jazz-influenced rock:
touches of Can, You-era Gong, hints of sax-driven Van Der Graaf
Generator prog, and now a space rock fizz in there under the surface of
that now trademark mix of hooks and improvision, those rolling grooves,
that confident jazz phrasing, that telepathy that allow them to just go
there and see.
Led Bib are a very confident band, an unforced band - they just know they can naturally do it. Five albums in and their first since the Mercury Prize nomination launched them on a much wider audience, and this is the sound of a band boldly hitting their stride. For all the detail and colour, the rich instrumentation of double saxes, electric piano and upright bass, Bring Your Own is an album that never stands still: its a lean album, precision with a light touch - maybe having the main composer (Mark Holub) on the drums (Magma style!) is how you get complexity with groove and flow. Ten tracks, all classic jazz rock instrumentals, all with personality and human feel, often like theme tune feasts from 70’s rock shows – some kind of bridge between the avant-garde end of jazz and the mainstream, recognisable jazz end... a balancing act where smooth doesn't mean sickly pap and avant doesn't mean ungraspable noise. The whole thing is just very likable, very enjoyable; the whole personality of the band, the music, the touch of wry humour, the people, the flow, the sheer imagination, the little suprises, the thoughtful honking of that sax, the weaving of those bass lines, the freedom of it all… Just really really enjoyable, stimulating. Classic jazz whatever the time, place, era…
Bring Your Own is out now. The band have an album launch in London at the Purcell Room, on February 28th and follow it with a March UK tour.
You’ll fine a free download taste over on the Cuneiform website at http://www.cuneiformrecords.com/