There’s an old sports saying ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ and this can be just as well applied to music, this enterprising outfit, namely Hexagonal, have form (or what I like to call Jazz ‘previous’) and naturally, there’s heaps of class too. It’s an exuberant affair born out of the love and an association these uber talented musicians have with two of jazz’s greatest piano pioneers, McCoy Tyner and Bheki Mseleku.
The opener ‘Walk Spirit Talk Spirit’ kicks off with heavy horn blessedness reigning down on this lilting slow burner of a tune that explodes into fast swing driven imperiously by drummer Tristan Banks, a seductive track that encapsulates this heavyweight collective to a ‘T’. In striking contrast, ‘Ballad of The Saints’ is the polar opposite, a restrained, highly lyrical yet somehow melancholic tune adorned with Flugelhorn (Quentin Collins) that proffers a majestic stillness. The Man From Tanganyika’ a propulsive beauty, is my personal fave, Jason Yarde’s earthy and heavy baritone, Graeme Flowers virtuosic trumpet, Simon Thorpe’s resonant (and set in granite) double bass topped off with a blistering drum solo all adds up to a sonic treat. ‘Joy’ too, is damn good with exceptional interplay from Greg Heath’s melodious flute and John Donaldson’s modal/swing piano that underpins this whole album in an extremely soulful manner giving the project and homage, depth and clarity.
The most assured, empathetic and communicative playing comes easily for these musicians on this cohesive debut, startling at times with trenchant soloing a plenty and highly reflective. These are early days, but it will be interesting to see them develop their own original tunes but for now, let’s just say the state of jazz in Britain is safe in their hands……