Andrew McCormack’s Graviton
McCormack is probably best known for his acclaimed series of duo recordings with Jason Yarde; this album is a very different beast, showcasing his compositional vision in what might be described as jazz- prog-rock-fusion. McCormack is a formidable virtuoso, fully capable of integrating a range of influences from such challenging sources as Tigran Hamasyan and Steve Reich, and he’s written a set of closely plotted, twisting and turning pieces for his excellent band to negotiate. Check out the intricate altered-scale unison between Noemi Nuti and Josh Arcoleo in Walled Garden and marvel at Nuti’s accuracy; her calm vocals soar above the fearsomely tight, punchy odd-number time signature grooves laid down by Herbert and Blackmore on The Calling, broken by rippling arpeggios over matrixes of offbeat accents. Every moment is tightly written, with little room for improvisation, and the band handle the challenge with aplomb, delivering a series of supernaturally accurate performances that crackle with energy. The proggy feel is reinforced by the programmatic track titles – this is a concept album about the ‘classic hero’s journey’ no less – and by the time we get to The King Is Blind we are in out-and-out prog rock territory that Yes fans would feel at home in. The ambition and scope of McCormack’s vision are apparent, and the superb band realise them to perfection, though some listeners may find that the sheer quantity of musical content and the unswerving commitment to exploring the challenging reaches of harmony and rhythm become rather exhausting over the course of nearly an hour.
Andrew McCormack, piano; Noemi Nuti, vocals; Josh Arcoleo, tenor saxophone; Tom Herbert, bass; Joshua Blackmore, drums.