thu 06/08/2020

CD: John Martin - The Hidden Notes | reviews, news & interviews

CD: John Martin - The Hidden Notes

CD: John Martin - The Hidden Notes

Subtly original showcasing of saxophone multiphonics

Multiphonics: sailing in three directions at once

Few new releases come with quite such a specific technical claim as this double release from British saxophonist John Martin. His album title refers to his incorporation of multiphonics, an established technique in free improvisation, within his 11 new tonal compositions, which are in other respects from a recognisable idiom of contemporary jazz, often flavoured with a country and Latin tinge.

Martin’s originality is explorative rather than explosive, and this double release, with the quintet he created for the London Jazz Festival of 2014, reveals a technique of infinite subtlety and a restless sensitivity that ruffles and wrestles with existing modes of expression. The first disc contains refreshing re-workings of mostly familiar idioms: “Pentacision Part Two” is a particularly charming blend of Ralph Wyld’s buoyant vibraphone and Martin’s giddy arpeggios, with just enough from Tim Giles’ drumming to set the rhythm on edge.

The multiphonics, meanwhile, require delicate technique, and their soft, woody tone has most to say in explorations of tone and texture like “Whisper”, a delicious slow collision of Martin’s cleft notes with a bright vibraphone melody, the opposing textures of wheezing sax and boisterous vibes delightfully counterbalanced.

Martin’s international influences emerge on a piece like “Folklore”, steeped in the more cerebral kind of Americana, with Rob Updegraff’s plaintive guitar recalling Bill Frisell, while the multiphonics blend perfectly into the tectonics tonality. The understated brilliance of the multiphonics is Martin’s defining feature, and while there’s no dud on the album, the release might have packed a more concentrated punch with a single disc of Martin’s quiet, but revolutionary multiphonics, mostly from the second of the two discs.

@matthewwrighter

The opposing textures of wheezing sax and boisterous vibes are delightfully counter- balanced

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