Mark Langford, Phil Gibbs, Paul Anstey & Bob Helson; Buena Vista Social Club; Black Yaya
Fringe Music by Mark Langford, Phil Gibbs, Paul Anstey & Bob Helson (Freetone Records)
Bristol’s record of producing interesting and innovative music draws much from the long-established improv scene, with the city’s Fringe Cafe at its heart.
Mark Langford, Phil Gibbs, Paul Anstey and Bob Helson, the venue’s core band, have come up with this offering and it shows that open, democratic, and collective bands can scale heights rarely achieved by more structured ensembles.
The quartet, technically excellent, paint from a broad palette which makes for a vibrant, accessible atmosphere which eschews free-jazz cliches.
The line-up of sax, guitar, bass and drums plays an equal part in setting the course of the music.
Grooves do occur but not in a format you’d expect and that’s what makes Fringe Music so original and exciting.
It shows just how much collective improvisation can achieve.
Lost and Found by Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit)
Over the next few months the legendary “Club” will be playing together for the last time on their Adios tour, which will bring down the curtain on one of the most improbable and memorable musical adventures of the last decades.
In this context, it’s apt that the original instigators of the phenomenon Ry Cooder and Nick Gold should have trawled through previously discarded recordings to produce this heart-warming offering.
Although old territory, the selection sounds fresh and distinct with the magnificent Omara Portuondo making Tiene Sabor and Lagrimas Negras pulsate infectiously, while Ibrahim Ferrer’s live version of the Benny More-inspired bolero Como Fue impresses with its effortless elegance.
Both Eliades Ochoa on guitar and Ruben Gonzalez on piano contribute entrancing solos pieces with Quiereme Mucho and Como Siento Yo respectively. Worth every penny.
Black Yaya by Black Yaya (City Slang)
Holed up in a rented Californian apartment, the enigmatic David Ivar — one half of French duo Herman Dune — recorded Black Yaya, this impressive solo debut, all by himself.
Full of personality and pop hooks, it’s an infectious record, with themes of vengeance and betrayal informed by popular crime films like Death Wish and Manhunter.
Upbeat opener Flying a Rocket is bookended by dialogue from the film Raising Arizona, while Glad Tidings ambles along over old-school funk beats. Elsewhere, the world-weary Through the Deep Night channels Bob Dylan’s 1997 masterpiece Time Out of Mind.
The album’s sheer variety is intoxicating — from Ivar’s red-hot harmonica playing to his Warren Zevonesque attitude.
Though Ivar is clearly steeped in classic pop history — he cites John Lennon and Chuck Berry as touchstones — Black Yaya is marvellously fresh and inventive.