Review: Family Band by John Marley

Thanks to John Marley over at Jazz in York for this review of Family Band’s album. Visit the site for more reviews and a comprehensive overview of what goes on in York!


Largely due to the influx of students who flock to the music college each year, Leeds is a city which is never short of interesting and original jazz music. Family Band is made up of LCM graduates who are all making names for themselves on the British Jazz Scene. A large portion of the material on offer is composed by the double bassist Tom Rivière who leads from the bottom up. Rivière opens the album with a hypnotic bass riff on Mao II which is coloured by the freely swinging drums of Steve Hanley. Saxophonist Riley Stone-Lonergan solos melodically while trumpeter Kim Macari utilises the capabilities of her instrument to weave between the tenor with counter lines and discordant effects. 

Bring lulu is a hard swinging free bop composition with a strong Ornette Coleman influence. Of course, this instrumentation featured on many of Coleman’s early albums due to the freedom allowed by the absence of piano or guitar. The expertly executed theme makes way for a powerful time no changes solo by Stone-Lonergan. Making the most of thematic development and low register gargles, the solo peaks in just the right places. 

Newman’s Eggs is a more traditional mid-tempo blues affair and Latin Genetics is a joyous Calypso melody, the type favoured by tenor giant Sonny Rollins. The album closes with another Rivière composition entitled A Poem For You. The piece begins with an extended bass improvisation which is embellished by light bells and cymbals from Hanley. The dramatically mournful horn melody is played over a bass pedal tone while gradually the ensemble break in to Albert Ayler like, folk inspired free improvisation.

Family Band is a strong and varied debut from a young band of creative improvisers.   – John Marley


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