When David Preston started composing for the project that became his first solo LP, he opened up some fascinating new perspectives. In contrast to his acclaimed work with high-octane fusioneers Preston/Glasgow/Lowe he found himself drawn to simple forms, textures and moods – “not going full tilt all the time”.
Purple/Black Vol.1 opens with ‘O. Winston’, which encapsulates the vibe mentioned above, a composition based around a four note bass ostinato from Kevin Glasgow. Seb Rochford nails the propulsive rhythm while David Preston and Kit Downes display some quite fascinating jazz fusion interplay. ‘Cassino Dream’ comes complete with an 80s synth backdrop, an impressive drumming display from Rochford, and more intricate piano/guitar fusion interplay from Downes and Preston. The next track starts with a quiet spacious guitar sound from Preston, which Downes matches at the piano on the two-minute ‘Urtext’.
‘Purple/Black’, the album’s title track, has a restrained sound structure with a solid, pronounced drum platform. This is more rock than jazz with Downes on keys and piano and Preston leading the way on guitar. The overall effect is one of sombre monumentalism that would not be out of place in an arena. ‘Blues For Klemens’ is described as “an abstract blues” number. The sound is cleaner and more spacious than the previous tune with a delicacy of touch from Rochford and Downes under the guitar lead of Preston. ‘Salem Ascending’, with the swirling brushes of Rochford, is the most melodic of the numbers heard so far. The guitar is in an Americana style while Downes fills in the gaps with what is described as “exploratory” playing with placed bass notes from Glasgow tying the whole piece together.
‘Prison Lullaby’ , led by Rochford’s dead sounding beat, has a sinister edge to it that can be quite unsettling. The only light on this track comes from the piano lines but think Japanese suspense film track and you are in the right mood space. Despite its title, the light comes flooding back in with opening to ‘Shades of Shibuya’. The main theme is set up by Downes at the piano with a minimalist approach and minimal support from Preston. This number belongs to Downes and really shows how a powerful atmosphere can be created with the least intervention.
Apparently ‘VHS Poem’ is a slowed down Preston/Glasgow/Lowe fusion classic. There is a brooding intensity to this tune but the sound is sharp, crisp, with a clean touch. Along with the piano playing from Downes, I really like Glasgow’s bass line on this track . As before, there is some very good interplay between Preston and Downes with Rochford keeping things ticking along in a relaxed style. ‘Susie Q’s’ closes out Purple/Black Vol.1 with the most straight-ahead sound on the album but that does not mean that the jazz fusion profile that underpins this release has been abandoned. The guitar/piano interplay, referenced more than once in this post, is there; the solid supporting bass and drums rhythms are there; as is the compositional creativity. This is a strong finish to an imaginatively expressive release.
Jazz fusion is not a style of jazz music that always sits comfortably with me as I sometimes find that the fusion element overrides or distorts the jazz aspect. There are moments on Purple/Black Vol.1 where I do feel that David Preston does overplay his hand. However, this is more than compensated for with his choosing of Kit Downes as the album’s pianist. The way in which these two musicians play off and around each other is something quite special and with Glasgow and Rochford in support, this outfit becomes quite a formidable quartet.
Purple/Black Vol.1 will be available from April 28th in a limited 180 gram vinyl edition, in a six panel digifile CD format as well as a digital download from Bandcamp.
Musicians: David Preston – guitar; Kit Downes – piano; Kevin Glasgow – bass; Sebastian Rochford – drums.
Tracklist: 1. O. Winston. 2. Cassino Dream. 3. Urtext. 4. Purple / Black. 5. Blues for Klemens. 6. Salem Ascending. 7. Prison Lullaby. 8. Shade of Shibuya. 9. VHS Poem. 10. Susie Q’s.