Time (Jess Gillam)

Jess Gillam (saxophone); Various Artists (Decca)

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CD_4851065_Gillam

Time
Works by Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, Max Richter, Anna Meredith, Joby Talbot, et al
Jess Gillam (saxophone); Various Artists
Decca 485 1065   56:65 mins

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Like her debut album Rise, Jess Gillam’s second release is packed with eclectic short works. But unlike Rise, Time has a clear and effective theme, describing the hubbub of a single day in London, Gillam’s new home. We yawn and stretch through the early pieces; dawn awakes to Meredith Monk’s Early Morning Melody and Luke Howard’s Dappled Light – one of several new commissions for the project, packed with lush tunes and undulating piano accompaniment.

There is a sprinkling of impressive new arrangements of contemporary favourites: Simon Parkin’s version of ‘Truman Sleeps’ from Philip Glass’s soundtrack music for The Truman Show imagines a pre-midday slump, before a caffeinated wakeup depicted through Anna Meredith’s excellent Bubble Gun, arranged by Jack Ross. Gillam switches from soprano to alto saxophone for that piece and Orbit, another new commission, by Will Gregory, which opens with a beguiling duet between sax and marimba. The high point of the collection is Nyman’s Where the bee dances, which sees Aurora Orchestra as Gillam’s colourful musical accomplices.

Glass is the only composer who is featured twice, not, surprisingly for his score for The Hours, an all-too-obvious connection to the programme, but with Melody for Saxophone No. 10. Here and elsewhere, the soloist is expertly recorded, with Gillam’s rounded tone nicely defined.

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Claire Jackson