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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Partisans By Proxy



















Powerful Stuff
By Proxy
Partisans
Babel

Four albums into a career that has been ongoing since the mid-90s and Partisans have arguably never sounded better. Bristling with a string of jazz awards and accolades from both specialist and mainstream press, this new release consolidates their reputation for providing a brisk mixture of adventure and sharp-witted compositions.

Starting off with a knowing reference to the famously expectant opening of the Miles Davis track Bitches Brew, Phil Robson and Julian Siegel (guitar and saxophone respectively), spend much of the album entwined in an energetic dance that really produces some sparks.

Shape-shifting tunes ramp up the interest levels as inventive shades, rippling unison work and the kind of easy muscularity that lets you know there's power aplenty without ever getting showy, are spread tautly across provocative time signatures.

Every bit the equal of the frontline, Thaddeus Kelly (bass) and Gene Calderazzo (drums) have a way of working that is both supple and suitably spacious. Calderazzo's knack of keeping things close ensures that when he does open up the throttle the effects are consistently impressive.

Variations in the pace include include the acoustic interlude of the Ralph Towner-like Munch, a mournful tune whose theme cascades into dark, intriguing spaces. There's a dalliance with free-form funkateering on Partisans #1 and Thaddeus Kelly remixes a cavorting electronica-influenced rendition of Ellington's Prelude To A Kiss, complete with samples of the Duke himself and some streetwise sub-woofer mayhem.


This review first appeared here

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