Glimpses of Truth is the first time that we have had an opportunity to hear pianist Ivo Neame’s big band compositions on disc. The album is Neame’s attempt to grapple with wider social issues within the onslaught of misinformation in a social media driven political landscape.
We’re always struggling with the real truth of anything. People talk about how we are living in a post-truth world; this album is my interpretation of that. A lot of the time [the truth], it’s very murky – that is why I call it ‘glimpses. These days it’s “this is my truth, that’s your truth” – it’s all very vague because the world is so chaotic.Ivo Neame, album press release
The listener is dropped straight into the big band sound of the opening number ‘Rise of The Lizard People’, a track full of pulsing rhythms, shifting patterns, punchy angularity, and moments of beautiful lyricism. The volume and timbre of the piece also move around but not in such a way as to be disorientating or cause diminution of the overall sound. This is a strong opening track with a phat, contemporary big band sound that deserves to be played with the volume control up!
‘Strega’ has a freer sound structure with a two-drum set up and the trumpet of Ingrid Jensen. There is no obvious melodic line in the opening bars, and it is only when the piano and sax come in that “free” playing aspect becomes more controlled. The trumpet and piano section is first class, as is the effect created when the full band join in and fill out the sound. ‘Broken Brains’ is a reference to the mental health issues that so many are having to deal with in the current climate. This is an introspective piece with George Crowley featuring on tenor sax, but it is the piano of Ivo Neame, with an excellent drum accompaniment, that sets the tone of this number. ‘Broken Brains’ is a hauntingly beautiful composition that will resonate with so many.
‘Phasing Song’ features Gilad Hekselman on guitar on a multi-layered track that I found fascinating to listen to. The number weaves in and out of instrumental levels of sound and voices that in less capable hands may have sounded confusingly discordant. The final few bars bring the track to a wonderful harmonic conclusion: worth considering hitting the repeat button before moving on.
‘Persevere Parts 1 & 2’ are the next two tracks on the album with ‘Part 1’ opening in a classical music style, which continues until Ivo Neame plays a jazz styled piano section with Tom Farmer playing a good bass line in support. The sound opens out with the addition of the larger band before finishing off with a final piano and bass section that takes us to the end of ‘Part 1’ and on to ‘Part2’, which has a very different feel about it. Jim Hart’s vibes start as if he is searching for the melody and as the piece progresses the theme of the piece starts to become clearer, and Jim’s playing begins to flow. At times this sounds like a vibe, drum duet but splashes of sound from Ivo Neame give the tune added colour until the rest of the band and their voices to the now fully formed musical structure.
The final track of Glimpses of Truth, ‘Ghostly Figure’, is filled with great horn playing backed with eerie electronic murmurings. At times the horns sounded strong and defiant – matadorial in glimpses – however, what I found unsettling in this number was the constant flow of electronic sound that occasionally blended so well with the horns they were difficult to tell apart. In some ways I found this to be a disappointing end to the album not because of the way it is written but because it had to be written in this way to convey the idea that Glimpses of Truth is our current state in a storm of digital misinformation.
I have had the pleasure of listening to Ivo Neame play with the band Phronesis both live and on CD and I was looking forward to hearing this big band sound when I first got approached to review it. I am full of admiration for the way this album has been put together: the compositions are strong, thought provoking, and played to the highest standard. I do not always “get” the political messages written into jazz music but with Glimpses of Truth I felt that I did, which says as much about my own fears for truth as it does for Mr Neame’s compositional skills
Glimpses of Truth is released on the Whirlwind Recordings label 26 November, 2021.
Ivo Neame – piano; Noel Langley – trumpets; Trevor Mires – trombones; Gareth Lockrane – flute; Nathaniel Facey – alto sax; George Crowley – tenor sax; Jason Yarde – baritone sax; Ingrid Jensen – trumpet; Gilad Hekselman – guitar; Tom Farmer – bass; James Maddren – drums; Jon Scott – drums; Jim Hart – vibes.
Tracklist:1. The Rise of The Lizard People. 2. Strega. 3. Broken Brains. 4. Phasing Song. 5. Persevere Part 1. 6. Persevere Part 2. 7. Ghostly Figure