Neil Cowley Trio: Radio Silence

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: NEIL COWLEY TRIO
LABELS: Naim
WORKS: Radio Silence
PERFORMER: Neil Cowley (piano), Richard Sadler (bass), Evan Jenkins (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: NAIMCD 147

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When bebop emerged in the 1940s there was a backlash against the modernists from a purist clique the boppers dubbed ‘mouldy figs’. A similar situation has arisen in the UK with the emergence of bands like the Neil Cowley Trio.

Today’s purists say the newcomers’ music isn’t jazz because it sounds ‘through composed’ or has too much in common with indie music. Such a criticism could be levelled at Neil Cowley – but why bother? Radio Silence has energy, manic riffs and much emoting.

There are written main theme arrangements and the trio knows where the Cowley penned numbers are taking them. But Sadler and Jenkins have great ears, tracking the leader’s percussive lines and revelling in stop-time outbursts, deliberately faltering around him.

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It’s a sound that combines the jubilant swing of Abdullah Ibrahim with the elegance of Brad Mehldau and the intensity of Nirvana. It’s jazz alright and it’s enough to make a mouldy fig weep. Garry Booth