Tuesday 30 April 2024

'Bloom' by Bill Laurance & The Untold Orchestra

The Snarky Puppy dynasty has been a thrilling project in of itself to see flourish over the years. Their numerous projects over the course of nearly 15 years since their debut have not only introduced fans to a beloved and dynamic musical collective who found their home within jazz and fusion styles, but also introduced the world to a range of over 40 musicians, who have waved the flag for the band at one time or another, many of which went on to achieve incredible solo successes in their own right. Snarky Puppy founder, Michael League started the GroundUP Music label and produced for a range of artists; Robert "Sput" Searight went on to work for heavy-hitters including Kendrick Lamar and Terrace Martin before forming the Ghost-Note project alongside fellow Snarky Puppier, Nate Werth; Bobby Sparks, currently an in-demand session musician and collaborator, is also further cultivating his 'Schizophrenia' series of solo projects... which brings us to the new release from one of the staple members of Snarky Puppy, London-born Bill Laurance.

The pianist clearly thrives from positioning himself and his music amongst various and continually diverse settings - parking the expansive jazz-fusion outfit of Snarky Puppy for a moment, Laurance's pairing with the eighteen-piece WDR Big Band, enlisted for his live album 'Live at the Philharmonie, Cologne' (Jazzline, 2019) serves as a great example and one that works in stark contrast to his fifth album 'Cables' (Flint Music, 2019) which saw Laurance whittle the numbers from eighteen down to one, helming the entire project - including every instrument played - by himself.

With Bill Laurance Trio releases and a brilliant two-hander with Michael League released since then ('Where You Wish You Were', 2023), Laurance seeks to subvert expectations once again by pairing with The Untold Orchestra for their collaborative effort, 'Bloom'.  The project serves as a rekindling of their scintillating chemistry beautifully captured for 'Live at EFG London Jazz Festival 2021' and now revisited for this studio setting.

'Bloom' finds Laurance returning to his initial classical music roots for a sublime project that boasts as much personality and charm as anything bearing his name has to date.  While his playing is typically remarkable, the eighteen members comprising The Untold Orchestra really add some luxurious textures to the whole project managing to find their best life within the more stirring pieces as much as they do within the more introspective compositions.  'All At Once' - the absolute scene-stealer here - grabs you instantly with its sharp, stabbing strings that just continue to build to exquisite effect.

Despite consistently embracing new ways and means in a bid to ascend to higher plateaus, Bill Laurance forever remains positioned comfortably at the centre of each of these projects anchored by his own unhindered perspectives and desire to continually re-contextualize his music whether alongside a team of eighteen or one.

No comments:

Post a Comment