fri 26/04/2019

CD: Pigfoot - 21st Century Acid Trad | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Pigfoot - 21st Century Acid Trad

CD: Pigfoot - 21st Century Acid Trad

New British band offers rhythmically brilliant rejuvenation of trad favourites

Pigfoot, 21st Century Acid Trad

For his new band, Pigfoot, trumpeter Chris Batchelor has gathered three virtuosos of British jazz. Between them, pianist Liam Noble, tuba player Oren Marshall and drummer Paul Clarvis have made some of the most original British jazz of the past few decades. In this, Pigfoot’s debut album, they not only blow the cobwebs off eight favourites of the trad repertoire, they sandblast away decades of treacly cliche, revealing music of both immense joy and subversive power.

Footage of 1950s crowds dancing to trad jazz shows an audience not unlike modern clubbers, wild-eyed and ecstatic at the novelty of trad’s scalding rhythm and melody. Yet within a decade, bebop and the Beatles had pushed it aside. In the UK, fine musicians like Humphrey Lyttelton and Chris Barber played for an ageing, shrinking audience, while in the US, Wynton Marsalis curates the tradition with panache. But a scintillating, revolutionary repertoire that fused a people’s consciousness, and rose from the backstreets of New Orleans to be a nation’s artform within a handful of decades, has been unduly neglected.

Liam Noble thumps a spiky, tap-dancing stride piano, while Marshall’s tuba oozes fat swagger, and Clarvis snaps impudently at the heels of the beat Where Marsalis gilds the repertoire in reverential lustre, Pigfoot’s lean, scoured aesthetic lets every detail of their brilliant and invigorating re-working gleam pin-sharp. Their chief innovation is to dismember the rhythm, re-constructing the piece using a range of time signatures, so the track jolts giddily between beats. It’s sometimes disorienting, but brilliantly rejuvenating, letting in light through new rhythmical gaps. Of the tracks, "Tennessee Waltz" best shows off the band’s bittersweetness, while Ellington’s "Mood Indigo" is a banquet of mood and tone.

The playing, too, refreshes our perspective by rendering the traditional styles with both more licence and more precision. Liam Noble thumps a spiky, tap-dancing stride piano, while Marshall’s tuba oozes fat swagger, and Clarvis snaps impudently at the heels of the beat. Batchelor can play pealing solos with the best, but what really stands out is the curdled tone he gets with a range of mutes, which seethes and bubbles with sorrow and joy. Superb.  

  • The album 21st Century Acid Trad is currently available here
Pigfoot’s debut album not only blows the cobwebs off eight favourites of the trad repertoire, it sandblasts away decades of treacly cliche

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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