Partisans: Max

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: David Bowie,The Partisans
LABELS: Babel
WORKS: Partisans, Wise Child, Last Chance, Some of Those, John, I’m Only Dancing
PERFORMER: Phil Robson (guitar); Julian Siegel (saxophones, bass clarinet); Thaddeus Kelly (bass); Gene Calderazzo (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: BDV 2553

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This fresh and exciting set from the London-based alt-jazz specialists takes its name and inspiration from veteran drummer and innovator Max Roach. The music they play has its roots in the nervy, organised chaos that is bebop – but with a twist. Discordant, rocky guitar riffs emerge from the roiling boil of the rhythm section; a Hammond B3 organ digs into a deep, greasy groove; then the tension is released as the cool notes of a bass clarinet silence the other instruments.

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The arrangements of the mostly original compositions are discomforting and disarming in equal measure. Just as the ears become accustomed to atonality, a tender ballad based on acoustic guitar picking surfaces. The only non-original piece – David Bowie’s ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ – is reinvented as a slow blues drag. Garry Booth