The long-running U.K. exploratory-jazz-rock collective known as Led Bib awake to a new dawn with their latest album, It’s Morning, a fraught message struggling to leave the sender, transmitted into the hectic world in which we live. We find less of the wild and energetic skronking the band are known for left mostly under the covers. Opener Atom Story sees singer Sharron Fortnam (North Sea Radio Orchestra, etc.) stretching languorously before the rising sun, and “as song forms, story’s told”. Awakened, we set off on the morning commute, straight into the worldly funk of Stratford East, and witness a journey through the hinterland of U.K. jazz-funk, accompanied by some fine call and response sax blowing from Chris Williams and Pete Grogan. Sharron’s clear and considered tones singing fellow vocalist Jack Hues’ lyric, which muses on layers of the past buried under modern brutalism, make for a nice contrast with the powerful blowing and charging rhythms beneath her voice.
Centrepiece of the album is the 11-minute Fold, a gently unfurling abstract flower of improvised urban cosmic ambience that captivates in its intricacy. Slow rumblings and hints of jazz meeting psychedelia presage the entry of what seems like unstructured rhythm from band leader and drummer Mark Holub. These variegated strands gradually resolve themselves into the less anarchic end of the free jazz spectrum, before floating away into the cosmos on the back of Sharron’s unexpected vocal. Quite an unusual composition!
The addition of vocalists to the Led Bib oeuvre adds another dimension to their sound, and the subsequent messing around with conventional conceptions of songcraft is something that works well. One of those songs, and possibly the highlight of It’s Morning for me is To Dry In The Rain, a beguiling, lovelorn and lost melancholy ballad building to an instrumental climax that splashes defiantly through puddles, rising above the grey day, certain that “I don’t need eyes to know where you are”, before returning to base to stare wistfully out the rain-splattered window, musing “I’m so far away from home”, courtesy of Elliot Galvin’s lonesome piano. Lovely!
Mark Holub says of the accompanying live show, “I’m hoping people will be transported somewhere else”, an ambition enhanced in the live environment by a concert length film* by Dylan Pecora. As a piece of music, I find It’s Morning has already achieved its ambition, and I hope anyone reading this not familiar with the band will give it a listen. Some folk are instantly put off by the “jazz” label, but this music deserves so much more than a label. Put simply, it’s just great music, and good for the soul.
[*Multi-media matinee album launch show featuring cinematic projections at RIO Cinema, Dalston, London on Sunday 24th November 2019.]
01. Atom Story (2:47)
02. Stratford East (5:32)
03. It’s Morning (0:39)
04. Fold (11:08)
05. Cutting Room Floor (3:54)
06. To Dry In The Rain (6:43)
07. O (4:40)
08. Flood Warning (3:30)
09. Set Sail (1:28)
Total Time – 41:23
Sharron Fortnam – Vocals
Chris Williams – Alto Saxophone
Pete Grogan – Alto & Tenor Saxophone
Elliot Galvin – Keyboards & Piano
Liran Donin – Bass, Backing Vocals (track 2)
Mark Holub – Drums
Jack Hues – Vocals
Susanna Gartmayer – Bass Clarinet
Irene Kepl – Violin
Noid – Cello
Record Label: RareNoise Records
Formats: CD | Digital | Vinyl
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 27th September 2019