Album Review: Bonsai – Bonsai Club

Bonsai

Bonsai Club

(Ubuntu UBU0031)

 

The artists previously known as Jam Experiment return with a rebranded outfit, now with extra violin courtesy of an Ingham sibling, and a renewed sense of purpose and personality. The extra confidence can be seen in their decision to add vocal tracks to their brand of 21st century jazz fusion – Bonsai Club has the intimate, uninflected singing of bassist Joe Lee giving a very contemporary feel to proceedings, closer to the introspective millennial- pop of artists like Bon Iver than your typical bombastic fusion fare. The Crescent returns us to the world of the jazz club via powerful trombone improvisation from a full-toned Rory Ingham over a tightly arranged backbeat; Bonsai like to spin long, intricate unison lines over surging grooves and use them as backdrops for solo explorations on their unusual palette of frontline instruments. There are inevitable comparisons to be made with the all-conquering Snarky Puppy, but tunes like Tin and Quay have a very distinct flavour, more downbeat and atmospheric, that show a band reaching towards a distinct identity; the latter track especially demonstrates how they have found the confidence to explore texture and melody as much as frenetic soloing, and the results are consistently intriguing. Itchy Knee and BJMC have more of the upbeat intricacy typical of fusion fare, and the combination makes for an engaging listen from this exciting young band.

Eddie Myer

Rory Ingham, trombone; Dominic Ingham, violin; Toby Comeau, piano, keys; Joe Lee, bass, vocals, piano; Jonny Mansfield, drums, vibes, synths.