Wednesday, November 10, 2010

King Capisce: A New UK Avant Garde

King Capisce (group; formed 2008)
King Capisce (KC Records)

Tim Feben (guitar)
Richard Harrison (sax)
Alex Baker (sax)
Roshan Lal (bass)
Tom Ashfield (drums)

The self titled debut from this Sheffield quintet King Capisce a refreshing reminder that the UK jazz scene is has many influences and allot to offer. Unsigned King Capisce have been on the UK touring circuit for only short time but have built up a decent following and their debut shows great strength in depth and vision.

This is a harder edge mixture of prog, psychedelia and free jazz. While current favourites, Polar Bear, Acoustic Ladyland and Troyka may come to mind, King Capisce are definitely making a case and carving out a space that might well be all their own in the future.

The album begins with the frightening beauty of "Cheer Up Cyclops" which start with Roshan Lal's funky bass line and then blast head first into an exchange of potent ideas both gentle and frenetic. "Cheer Up Cyclops" almost sums up the album in seven minutes (but wait there's more)--a bright piece of psychedelia and free jazz. It got me thinking, what if Ornette Coleman joined King Crimson on stage for one night? (Actually that could still happen.)

The battle of duelling saxophones and the blistering guitar work makes for some heavy listening at times but I think everyone with a sense of rock and jazz will enjoy King Capisce for different reasons. That battle continues on "The Sharp Edge", a mountain of a piece that delivers some complex melodies within changing environment. "The Sharp Edge' moves quickly from gently structure chords to funk patterns to improvised chaos.

"Between Teeth" gives this session a blues-rock injection with some wonderfully shifting work by Tim Feben on guitar. "Between Teeth" builds to high climax as the rest of the quintet join in a Philip Glass-esque arpeggio. "Boundless" closes things out with a mid-tempo delivery but just the right amount delicate aggression to remind the listener why this debut is so impressive.

A solid premiere for the Sheffield quintet that sparkles with ideas and strong musicianship. King Capisce is a band worth watching over the next couple of years. This is definitely the shape of jazz to come and let's hope they become talked about in the circles as the aforementioned UK outfits sooner rather later. Highly Recommended.

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