Monday 26 April 2021

5 Songs About: Ishmael Ensemble

With excitement and anticipation of the announcement of Ishmael Ensemble's sophomore full-length 'Visions of Light' due later this year, we thought we'd take a look at the Pete Cunningham-helmed collective who have continually delivered some of the most innovative and exciting music ever to grace our airwaves.  Should there be a chance that you find yourself playing catch-up, here's a whirlwind 5 song introduction to the brilliance of Ishmael Ensemble...

'Lapwing' by Ishmael Ensemble

Taken from the Ensemble's debut full-length, 'A State of Flow' (2019), 'Lapwing' is very much the quintessential Ishmael Ensemble song.  From an album that masterfully navigates between elements of jazz, dance and electronica, it's a testament to their awesome vision that a song that exquisitely straddles those various genres can so perfectly be a beacon for a bold perspective of contemporary jazz.

'The Melody' [Ishmael Ensemble Remix] by Carl Craig

There have been a strong selection of excellent remixes bearing the name of the Ishmael Ensemble which include brilliant re-imaginings of tracks by Chip Wickham ('Snake Eyes') and Yama Warashi ('Parallelogram'). The remix of Carl Craig's 'The Melody' - which also saw remixes created by Henrik Schwarz and Tom Trago - however, resulted in a true breakout moment for the collective presenting 'The Melody' in an unimaginable context.

'Search For Peace' by Ishmael Ensemble

Recognising the burgeoning impact the current crop of UK jazz artists are having on contemporary jazz, Blue Note Records opened the doors of their revered catalogue to a swathe of awesome talent allowing exciting reinterpretations of classics by names including Ezra Collective, Alfa Mist and Blue Lab Beats.  McCoy Tyner's 'Search For Peace' found itself the subject of a stunning update from Ishmael Ensemble delivering a true highlight from this two-disc compilation.

'Hafiz' (Live Version) by Ishmael Ensemble featuring Holly Wellington

The initial incarnation of the 'Songs For Knotty' EP introduced the band through four fantastic tracks for Banoffee Pies Records in 2017.  A CD reissue of the project released a couple of years later saw the inclusion of three bonus live tracks which provide a wonderful insight to the band's ability to transform their studio productions to the live stage.  Vocalist Holly Wellington provides a lush vocal on their rendition of 'Hafiz' which serves as an absolute treat.

'Wax Werk' by Ishmael Ensemble

The lead single taken from the highly anticipated 'Visions of Light' album sets the pieces in place for Ishmael Ensemble to steal the show all over again for their sophomore album release.  'Wax Werk' is a joy to experience for the first time - its journey from the understated introduction all the way to its explosive, drum-crashing, sax-wailing climax is everything listeners could have wanted the band's official return to be.

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