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Arnie Somogyi's Ambulance - Accident and Insurgency - Straight No Chaser


07 January 2008
Straight No Chaser
Amar Patel

 

A cohesive fluid quintet from the seaside Suffolk town of Aldeburgh? Horn maestro 'Mganga' Eddie Henderson sitting in? Yes, I read right.

Linn new signings, Arnie Somogyi's Ambulance conjure eleven original compositions of such measure, mystique and eccentricity that it's incredibly hard not to keep rushing back for another dose.

And the collective responsibility is an important point. Although double bass man Arnie is the imposing bandleader who has played with anyone from Henderson, Art Farmer and Bobby Hutcherson to Richard Ashcroft, the liner notes stress the importance of 'sounding like a band' rather than a group of musicians playing one person's compositions. And the warmth of professional and personal understanding between some of the most promising yet accomplished jazz musicians in the UK radiates throughout.

It's also a blessing that the bulk of this recording was made mid-tour during one four-hour recording session. That's how you build a vibe.

Walking Wounded is a great opener, a swell from an irresistible bassline elevated by Dave Smith's splashes of cymbals and as Henderson coverts in the foreground. Elsewhere, spontaneous tracks like Captain Courageous illustrate the real-life essence of the band drawing from the calm and fearless aura of Aldeburgh fisherman Kirk, on whom the composition is based.

Solace is just that, a think piece from pianist Tim Lapthorn beautifully lightened by the motifs of Paul Booth and Rob Townsend.

Adrift also evokes moods and scenes from their musical development residency at Snape Maltings; a gorgeous ballad to walk contentedly to. Contrast that to the urgency and 'insurgency' of the designated Ambulance theme tune Sirenity!

The closer Broadside is perhaps the most intriguing (not least as it's a tribute to one of their favourite beers - powerful stuff). Building from another meditative Somogyi bassline over a 13/8 time signature, in come the blazing horns and a clever electronic loop of reconstructed 'sea drones' sequenced by Townsend. Henderson is free to prowl around and the resulting composition - with all its twists and turns - is compelling to say the least.

You're strongly urged to pick this up and then rush for 'A & I' and also catch one of their performances in England throughout February 2008. Jus don't expect any White coat gimmickry.


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