Tuesday 31 January 2023

'The Light Beyond Time' by Charlie Stacey

Charlie Stacey adds his name to the rich yet still burgeoning lineage of Night Dreamer's "direct to disc" recordings with the release of 'The Light Beyond Time'.

Alongside some phenomenal releases by names including Seun Kuti + Egypt 80, Emma-Jean Thackray and Maisha's pairing with Gary Bartz, Stacey's debut solo recording has a lot to live up to but is no doubt a challenge backed with considerable faith from the upper echelons of the Night Dreamer decision-makers.

Many of course will already be familiar with Stacey's work as a key contributor to the UK's thriving jazz scene - as well as a fervent live performer, Stacey's piano and keyboard prowess has graced projects by Greg Foat and seen Stacey serve as a member of the Yussef Dayes Trio.

And helping Stacey take those decided steps towards centre stage notoriety is an excellent ensemble of artists which include Jay Phelps on trumpet, Tom Driessler on bass, Oscar Ogden on drums, percussionist Mamour Seck and vocalist Vula Malinga, who all shine in performances recorded over a day-&-a-half recording session.  In true Night Dreamer tradition, the 'direct to disc' recordings for 'The Light Beyond Time' act as faithful renditions of those sessions which embrace the concept of collaboration, improvisation and music born of the circumstances within that time and space.  And there's certainly a magic in that - in not always knowing the the song's final destination but trusting in its journey and in the ability of your fellow travellers.

Following the (deceptively) delicate introduction of album opener 'Dawn Chorus', the music enthusiastically ushers in compositions that burst with creative and inspired energy showcasing a tightly-knit collection of musicians in spectacular form.  'Music is Healing' and 'Charlie's Tune' power through with an effervescent energy affording a decent amount of band solos and the opportunity for vocalist Malinga to really soar throughout.  'Rivers of Gondor' - at over ten minutes in length - does awesome justice to its Lord of The Rings inspiration and its own take of the narrative's own twists, turns and heroic adventures.

'The Light Beyond Time' serves as a further scintillating instalment into the Night Dreamer catalogue as well as serving as the formal introduction of Charlie Stacey as a solo artist in his own right.

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