Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Phronesis: Alive

Phronesis (group; formed 2005)
Jasper Hoiby (bass)
Ivo Neame (piano)
Anton Eger (drums)

Mark Guliana (drums)

The tough part for me is, I had been avoiding Phronesis for the last few years because of the hype (e.g. the next best thing to E.S.T.). Well I have to say I may have seriously missed the bus on this one but I'm glad I caught up at the next stop. Phronesis is a trio born out the London based LOOP collective of musicians whom all have bands of their own but consistently work together for the advancement and experimentation of jazz in England and Europe (and of course everywhere else). The collective is also includes the critically acclaimed groups, Outhouse and Fraud.

While the aforementioned bands explore the more experimental side of the London jazz psyche, Phronesis is more laid back but with a rough vigorous edge in their sound, thanks to Jasper Hoiby's masterful work on bass and direction in composition.

Originally from by Jasper Hoiby, he would later recruit Neame and Eger to from the trio. The group have done an amazing job utilizing the space surrounding them. They fill it with worthy soundscapes that are both tight, poignant and refreshing. On their previous two album, Organic Warfare and Green Delay, Phronesis have definitely shown the spirit of Esbjorn Svensson Trio is still alive but Phronesis are for sure making it their own.

The bands latest, a live album entitled--Alive (Edition Records) is the album fans have been waiting for. Alive is an album rich in mid-tempo rhythms that captivates the listener in addition to highlighting the strength of Hoiby's original compositions. Alive includes material from the bands previous two albums but set in the live format you get a much more expansive and intense experience.

At times early on during this live outing Hoiby sounds like a combination Charlie Haden meets Dan Berglund (of E.S.T.) as on "Abrahams' Gift". "Abraham's Gift" is a number that shifting and fantastic time changes but also lightly balance touch of beauty reminiscent of Haden playing with Jarrett. Ivo Neame and for this date, Mark Guliana on drums also show that Hoiby's writing allows for dynamic improvisation to occur throughout the evenings performance.

"Love Song" is a perfect example of the bands interplay is solid (especially since Guliana is only filling in on this date). "Love Song" is mainly Hoibys piece but Guliana and Neame gently ran counter at just the right moments. Since this is live in the moment the listener truly feels the essence of how this night went down.

Another shining moment is the subtle touches Hoiby employs on "Untitled #2" (and on the iTunes exclusive "Smoking The Camel") in which Neame and Guliana led the trio on beautiful but yet vibrant journeys that showcase a distinct leap forward in the groups material and ability to grab and hold onto the audience at the venue as well as at home on the stereo.

Alive might be the best way to immediately get into Phronesis. They are definitely a group that is on the rise and while I've said recently Neil Cowley is also capable of taking the mantle left by E.S.T., now that I've experienced all three Phronesis albums there is definitely room for two new highly creative voices to fill the void left by the great Swedish trio. You should really check out Phronesis. I'm glad I finally did.

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