Release Date: Jan 23, 2012
Record label: Naim
For much of the noughties, former Brand New Heavies keyboardist Neil Cowley's piano trio set audiences bopping to a smart splicing of punchy themes and chord-belting, rock-piano climaxes. This ambitious project, however, combines the band with a classical-strings group and Brian Eno effects guitarist Leo Abrahams on a dozen new pieces. Subtler textures aren't won, however, at the expense of Cowley's knack for catchy hooks, and this entertaining set might even placate listeners who feel he semaphores what's coming next too much.
When asked his views on jazz, Steve Albini once replied: ‘Don’t let the fact that it’s utter bunk interfere with your enjoyment of it!’ Despite being a widely practiced musical genre, jazz has never consistently infected the maintstream in the same way as, say, RnB or soul. Jazz is often sniffily dismissed, redolent of that famous Fast Show sketch, with aficionados derided as pretentious woolly types, drowning in their own pseudos-sophistication. Nice.Which brings us to ‘The Face Of Mount Molehill’, The Neil Cowley Trio’s latest release which does not readily conform to pre-conceived notions of jazz as difficult or unnecessarily show-offy.
Cowley’s taste-making doesn’t always succeed, despite the vitality of his tunes. Martin Longley 2012 The preferred way to judge this album might be to view it beside pianist Neil Cowley’s existing output. He must have been wondering where he was heading next, after refining a particularly hectic form of prog-jazz riffing. Now, Cowley’s calmed down.