Lyn's Une - Alyn Cosker - Audio Video Club of Atlanta

Lyn's Une is the title of an engaging jazz album by drummer Alyn Cosker and a collection of friends who are right on the beam with his exciting, risk-taking style. They include: Ross Hamilton, bass; Jason Rebello, piano; David Dunsmuir, guitar; Paul Towndrow, soprano & alto sax; Tommy Smith, tenor sax; and Brian Quigley, trumpet. On the final track, vocalist Maureen McMullan signs in with a beautiful ballad, "When Autumn Comes," which she wrote expressly for this album. She's also heard in a wordless intro to "Smiling Down."

The album takes its curious title from a keying mistake in the Sibelius program that  Alyn's dad used to set down the score of Track 7. It was originally supposed to "Alyn's Tune," but the artist liked the typo so much he decided to leave it. That says something for Alyn Cosker: he's never afraid to innovate. His playing is punchy, energetic, bluesy, and funky, filled with asymmetrical rhythms and cross-rhythms. Alyn sets the beat for the trio that includes Dunsmuir and Hamilton, and the others join in with their own creative contributions. The results are often highly inventive and inspiring, and always intriguing. If you have to give a name to the style of the album as a whole, you might call it "fusion," though the term has been known to set my teeth on edge. Well, if this be fusion, let's make the most of it, say I.

The whole septet is heard only once on this album, in "Twitter and Bisted" (a pun on a well-known Scottish ale), in which all hands pounce into a brew of funk-and-groove that's very tasty indeed. The temperature rises a bit here, but such is the cohesion of the group that it all seems as inevitable as falling in love. I love those unison reeds and Quigley's blazing trumpet, with Cosker and Rebello providing the driving force behind a piece that shows just how much pure fun a jazz ensemble can be.

Cosker shows his penchant for tricky time signatures as early as early as Track 1, "Oh Dear," which presumably applies to the B section in 9 /8. With the exception of the afore-mentioned final track, "When Autumn comes," which McMullan wrote, all the tunes were penned by Cosker himself. Other tracks include "Logan's Slogans," a bit of gritty funk that Alyn dedicates to his old music teacher, Jack Logan; "Don't forget me," a gentle ballad that provides a showcase for the talents of Smith, Dunsmuir and Hamilton; "Smiling Down," a songlike piece dedicated to Alyn's late nephew; and "That's the Ticket," an invigorating, high-energy excursion for the trio of Cosker, Dunsmuir and Hamilton.

"Bheki" is an eloquent tribute to the late South African pianist Bheki Mseleku. It calls forth big-time contributions from Quigley, Rebello, and Smith. "Unannounced," which Alyn describes as an evocation of all the little surprises in  life that seem to come from nowhere, is a wistfully beautiful tune, adding appropriate commentary by Rebello and Dunsmuir to Alyn's sensitive playing. "Straight Through Boogaloo" gives the basic drums/guitar/bass trio no end of tricky rhythms and odd meters to have fun with.

I note in passing that this is Alyn Cosker's debut album, and that he was runner-up for "Best Drummer" in the Scottish Jazz Awards. I shudder to think who the prize winner was. He must be a veritable King Kong on the drums!

03 August 2009