Spirit Level

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Tim Richards
LABELS: 33 Records
WORKS: On the Level
PERFORMER: Tim Richards (p); Jerry Underwood (ss, ts); Kubryk Townsend (b); Kenrick Rowe (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 33JAZZ 021

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Tim Richards’s Spirit Level has been dispensing its highly accessible, punchy brand of modern jazz for 15 years now, surviving both personnel changes and fluctuating fashions. Its formula has remained remarkably consistent: its unfussy originals provide perfect vehicles for straightforward, gutsy blowing, while retaining enough unexpected melodic and rhythmic felicities to reward repeated listening.

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On the Level carries on this trad-ition with its uncomplicated Richards and Underwood compositions, but Kenrick Rowe’s writing provides useful contrast, being somewhat darker and grainier in texture than theirs. Both Underwood – his exuberant, swirling sound makes him a fitting replacement for his predecessor Paul Dunmall – and the robust, blues-tinged Richards are fine soloists, and the band as a whole confirms its unrivalled reputation for strength and consistency with this fine recording. Chris Parker