Album Review: Patchwork Jazz Orchestra – The Adventures of Mr. Pottercakes

Patchwork Jazz Orchestra

The Adventures of Mr. Pottercakes

(Spark Label Spark!007)

This impressive project unites some of the London jazz scene’s brightest young sparks (many of whom will be familiar to Brighton audiences from their appearances for New Generation Jazz) into a single multi-headed beast that provides a wide-ranging, ambitious showcase for everyone’s writing, arranging, soloing and reading chops while retaining an infectious sense of fun. The compositions are from seven different hands and stylistically the album seems to revel in its mongrel status – Liam Dunachie’s title track The Adventures Of Mr Pottercakes moves from lush contemporary big-band fusion to plaintive ECM style modernity under Matthew Herd’s excellent alto solo, to an unexpectedly Caribbean-flavoured coda, without pausing for breath. Drummer Scott Chapman contributes the measured, melodic Barcarolle – as ‘a response’ to Venetian gondoliers, no less – and trombonist (and Sparks label boss) Tom Green sets the nocturnal activities of the UK’s wildlife to a hectic cop-show soundtrack in Badger Cam (enlivened by some storming work from Rob Luft on guitar and Tom Smith on baritone). Bassist Mullov-Abaddo contributes a virtuosically humorous intro to the  strip-club vibes of The Boy Roy before making way for Pimenta and Narcin’s deliriously sleazy trombones – his own composition Hi Wriggly! is listed as inspired by “a young worm who experiences a psychotic episode”, and is as quirky as the title suggests. Matthew Herd’s tribute to the stories of Raymond Carver is an oasis of calm among the mayhem, before Kieren McLeod’s Vixen brings matters to a storming conclusion, moving restlessly from Dunachie’s measured piano solo to the unfettered explorations of Tom Dennis and Alex Hitchcock. Hectic, dazzling, breathtakingly accomplished and as much fun to listen to as it must have been to play.

Eddie Myer

James Davison, Adam Chatterton, James Copus, Tom Dennis, trumpets & flugelhorn; Kieran McLeod, Tom Green, Jamie Pimenta, trombone; Yusuf Narcin, bass trombone; Matthew Herd, soprano & alto sax; Sam Glaser, alto sax; Alex Hitchcock, Sam Miles, tenor sax; Tom Smith, baritone sax, flute, clarinet; Liam Dunachie, piano & hammond organ; Rob Luft, guitar; Misha Mullov-Abbado, bass; Scott Chapman, drums.