Arnie Somogyi's Ambulance - Accident and Insurgency - Vortex Jazz Website
Conceived and developed (courtesy of an Arts Council residency at Snape Maltings) in the musical seaside haven of Aldeburgh, this rich and varied album perfectly reflects the versatility and musicianly prowess of the quintet that one of the UK's most accomplished bassists, Arnie Somogyi, has assembled; it also features the elegant trumpet and flugelhorn playing of a stellar US guest, Eddie Henderson.
The band's material and more importantly, their ease and familiarity with it has clearly profited from their Suffolk sojourn, ranging uncontrivedly from pieces with discernible roots in group improvisation, through relatively straightahead swingers with just enough wrinkles in them to provide individual purchase, to compositions incorporating everything from seagull noises and the sound of the sea to footsteps through shingle. It also includes the odd affecting ballad, most memorably pianist Tim Lapthorn's Tumbledown, named for the descending melody it contains.
All this variety is addressed with stylish aplomb, but considerable verve and imaginative pep, by the band's two saxophonists, Paul Booth and Rob Townsend, and with Somogyi (in tandem with the excellent drummer Dave Smith, who will be familiar to Vortex patrons from his work with the likes of Outhouse) providing his trademark muscular, pulsating drive throughout, this is a highly entertaining and thoroughly absorbing set, and a great calling card for their live act, already aired at last year's Cheltenham Festival, but also set to tour the UK in February 2008. Recommended.