COMPOSERS: Roland Ramanan
LABELS: Emanem


D’Andrea has had major-label experience of his own in the past, but none of the large companies would cut him this kind of slack now. Nor would they countenance recording the kind of musicians which Martin Davidson’s admirable Emanem label has been assiduously following.

Davidson has meticulously restored the old legend ‘File under’ on his artwork, which used to be listed on LP sleeves to assist befuddled stockists: usually it’s ‘File Under: New Music/ Free Improvisation’. For the belated debut of trumpeter ROLAND RAMANAN, though, the suggested rack is ‘New Music/Composition for Improvisers’, since Ramanan’s quartet (with cellist Marcio Mattos, bassist Simon Fell and drummer Mark Sanders) often follow the leader’s principled settings.

He was an up-and-coming talent more than a decade ago who has only recently stepped back into his field. His playing has an open, expressive plangency about it: sometimes he retreats into squirrelly mutterings, but more often than not he suggests a British extension of Leo Smith’s clarion sound.


That said, the other three constructively confound him a lot of the way, and the result is free jazz of a combative yet peculiarly lyrical bent, beautifully sustained across a long CD.