Lyn's Une - Alyn Cosker - Jazz Journal

Young Scottish drummer and composer Alyn Cosker has been burning a bright trail across northern skies for several years now. Coming to prominence under Tommy Smith's watchful gaze, his Elvin-like propulsion of the saxophonist's "Forbidden Fruit" marked his card with me. Catching him standing in for Paolo Vinaccia in Arild Andersen's trio at last year's Edinburgh Jazz Festival offered even greater insight into his talents, but the sometimes not so subtle hints of his parallel career in rock music found on this Linn Records debut was almost as surprising as its title (a typo of "Alyn's Tune").

Given such genre-spanning interests, it is not so surprising that the metier of "Lyn's Une" is jazz-rock fusion. Cosker's Weckl/Gadd matrix probably won't satisfy the purist, but Hamilton's post Jaco electric bass and Dunsmuir's Scofield-esque guitar have much to recommend them and are the musical foundations on which th coterie of guests stand. Twitter and Bisted is the one occasion where the entire cast join forces, the acerbic Towndrow and fleet Quigley comfortably holding their own amongst more seasoned guests. Rebello's cameos are as elegant as ever, particularly the stunning dedication to the late Bheki Mseleku, whilst Smith is breathlessly exhilarating on the opening Oh Dear, complete with tricky 9/8 time signature and filigree paradiddles. The saxophonist leaves an indelible stamp both with a slew of passionate solos and also Cosker's compositional style.

Only on the tender ballads Don't Forget Me and Unannounced, and the country-inflected When Autumn Comes (featuring SNJO vocalist Maureen McMullan), does the backbeat let up sufficiently for some welcome space to open out. If I have a gripe with "Lyn's Une" then it lies with its high-octane burn and limit-pushing duration, A shorter better-balanced statement would have packed a more powerful punch, through Cosker's smart compositions and Rebello and Smith's solos comfortably put it above technically accomplished but nondescript fusion. "Lyn's Une" may ultimately enjoy a relatively ephemeral shelf life, but Cosker remains on course for greater things. Despite my reservations, I look forward to his next batch of "unes" with some anticipation.

07 October 2009