For the past few years now jazz has undergone a change of face and sound. In 2015 Amercian saxophonist composer Kamasi Washington wowed audiences worldwide with his debut release The Epic, which gave its listeners a new approach to what we class as ‘jazz’ music. Since then the face of jazz and indeed modern music has not been the same, especially here in the UK. The presence of Shabaka Hutchings, Theon Cross, Nubya Garcia and Joe Armon- Jones are just a small part of the ever growing list of young and upcoming talent on the current uk jazz scene, all of whom continue to release, play and inspire. Which brings our attention to the self-titled debut release of London based PYJÆN, led by trumpeter and composer Dylan Jones, whose name and fluid horn playing will already be familiar to anybody up to date with London’s thriving music scene. This quintet have quickly made a name for themselves as one of the hottest and most energetic live acts to recently emerge, and this essence is captured in full blast on their first full-length album. From start to finish this record is a complete amalgamation of influences ranging from traditional bebop through to fusion, afrobeat and funk rock. This release is packed full of infectious grooves layered underneath soaring melodic hooks and executed to perfection by a group whose ability to function as a solid unit is unquestionable. A good example being opening track Nah – its tongue in cheek title aptly fitting the mischievous funky sense of groove throughout the tune. Starting off with a grabbing intro from bassist Ben Crane, quickly joined by the erratic drum beats and subtle funk guitar brought by fellow bandmates: drummer, Charlie Hutchinson and guitarist, Dani Diodato. Then enters the horn section consisting of Jones on trumpet and Ben Vize on tenor saxophone, both blasting a speedy statement reminiscent of the bop playing of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker on Gillespie’s Dizzy Atmosphere. Finally the band drops back to unleash a scorching trumpet solo backed by the unbreakable rhythm section. Now, while this band’s ability to move so fluently together as a unit is definitely a standout in all the tunes on this album, applause must also be given to their ability to shift dynamically to create a solid platform and shine a light on whichever member decides to take the role of soloist. This interplay between the band is represented from track to track throughout, from fast afrobeat enforced grooves to slow and lite propelled ballads, all with a real sense of deep-hearted conviction. Throughout this recording the band sweeps through a spectrum of emotions, all beautifully captured in well-written compositions and arrangements and performed by a band who have well-crafted the art of storytelling through their music.
Dani Diodato, guitar; Dylan Jones, trumpet; Ben Vize, saxophone; Benjamine Crane, bass; Charlie Hutchinson, drums.