Julian Siegel - tenor and soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
Liam Noble - piano
Oli Hayhurst - double bass
Gene Calderazzo - drums
Recorded at Livingston Studios, Wood Green, London
by Chris Lewis (June 12 & 13, 2017)
Assistant Engineer - Tom Archer
Mixed and mastered by Chris Lewis
Produced by Chris Lewis and Julian Siegel
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
released February 2, 2018
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Some nine years since saxophonist Julian Siegel began collectively bouncing ideas off pianist Liam Noble, double bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Gene Calderazzo, the Julian Siegel Quartet release another absorbing and intrinsically crackling set of mostly original compositions in Vista. 2011’s Urban Theme Park created quite a splash with its ability to showcase both communal and individual musicality – and now that connection, knowledge and intuition is even stronger.
“It’s a shared experience”, explains Siegel who, over the years, has established himself as one of Britain's especially eloquent performers through his work with this quartet, his trio with Joey Baron and Greg Cohen, the Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra (formed in 2017), and with Partisans, co-led with guitarist Phil Robson.
“After playing together as a band for such a long time, you really start to get into something. When I give a new piece to Liam, he comes back with twenty times what I could imagine – he’s so free, with an amazing sense of daring, plus a really original harmonic approach. Gene has a fantastic feel and perception of time – there’s always a challenge in there that I really love; so much forward motion. And with Oli, it really swings”.
Delighting at the idea of getting back into the studio together again, the saxophonist and the quartet decided to record this as a purely acoustic set for the new album. “It’s a great opportunity, writing for this band, because you know they’re going to make it sound good!” Talking more about the writing of the music for Vista, Siegel says, “Leading up to the session, I tried to write every day, capturing ideas however/wherever they arrived, then seeing what stuck enough to make it through to first rehearsal. Each piece has a different genesis. For me, as a jazz writer, it’s the thing of: how much do you write, where do you stop? Most of the music we make on this album is improvised, so the pieces are just starting points. I like to find things that are a spark, to make something happen or to just allow a space to set something in motion; many things occurred for the very first time when we recorded the session – it was hugely exciting to catch it fresh”.
As leader, Siegel’s fluid, seamless assurance on either tenor or soprano is a joy, ‘The Opener’ encapsulating both the lyrical and snappier aspects of his character. ‘I Want To Go To Brazil’ arrived in his thoughts one morning and, in homage to Brazilian greats such as Hermeto Pascoal and Elis Regina, its gentle aubade awakens with South American zest. The luscious low-tenor resonances of ballad ‘Song’ leads to ‘Pastorale’, whose chirpy soprano/piano figure and expressive melody set up an open space for the quartet to explore.
The four break free with stomping, blues-honking ‘The Goose’ (Siegel's name for the bass clarinet, the instrument actually then taken up by him in evasive then chivvying ‘Idea’ which follows). Bud Powell’s ‘Un Poco Loco’ is dazzlingly reimagined, pursued breathlessly by chordless trio number ‘Billion Years’; and wide-scoping title track ‘Vista’ leaps rockily to Noble’s inquiring, ascending/descending motif and Siegel’s deliciously melodic tenor.
Siegel ruminates on how a band can develop over time: “Listening to some of my favourite albums throughout the history of the music, I’m struck by how many of them were made by ‘bands’ – a particular combination of people touring and playing together for years. There’s something special about that”. Experiencing Vista, it’s a concept that is already becoming a reality for this cohesive and conversational quartet.
"An all-too-rare combination of angularity with warmth... This album perfectly demonstrates how a quartet of seasoned musicians can successfully and seemingly effortlessly, produce an album of fresh ideas and catchy themes."
★★★★ All About Jazz
"Siegel's playing, a mixture of aphoristic asides that almost function as an oblique counterpoint to the internal logic of his lines, and the shrewd development of the ideas and motifs that seem to flow through lines, is sharply defined and commands attention."
"Plenty of pushing at the barriers of tonality as you’d expect from such adventurous and accomplished players, but it’s tempered with a refreshing melodicism and groove... An exhilarating experience."
“Clear-cut moods and meaty discourses... As tracks ebb, flow and draw to a peak, Siegel’s assured fluency is underscored by the understated, equal partner support of Oli Hayhurst and Gene Calderazzo.”
★★★★ Financial Times
“Tightly wound postbop, pensive improv and more, along with Siegel’s sweeping authority on bass clarinet.”
★★★★ The Guardian
"By some distance, this is the most enjoyable Julian Siegel album to date."
"The release of a new recording by Siegel is always a major event in the British jazz calendar and 'Vista' is no exception."
The Jazz Mann
"Exciting, dynamic music with improvisation at its center."
"Above all there's Siegel's own drive, warm sound and endless flow of ideas, his lines seeming somehow three dimensional, even at breakneck tempos."
Hi-Fi News & Record Review (Album Choice)
“Eleven absolutely thrilling pieces in which Siegel gets down to business... It’s his attention to detail and the outstanding soloing that makes this work exciting.”
★★★★ Concerto Magazine
“Showcasing both communal and individual musicality, this is a gripping set.”
Digitale Jazz Zeitung
“Polished and accessible... One for the collection.”
“Collective connection, knowledge and intuition.”
Rhein Main Magazine
"Historical, but not antiquated, courageous, but not overly experimental, Julian Siegel's jazz is a mature testimony of a grounded musical personality."
Jazz 'n' More
"An absorbing set... European music of the highest quality."
Musik an sich
"Imaginative, grounded and beguiling."
"Excellent... music from London."
Bird is the Worm
“A great quartet with an enthralling agility.”
“Siegel's improvisational lines are characterized by a fascinating wealth of ideas, and Noble once again lives up to his reputation as a top pianist on the current British scene.”
“The interaction between the musicians is confident, lyrical and cool, joyous and snappy, precise and sprawling - and enchanting melodiousness throughout.”
★★★★★ Saarbrücker Zeitung
“Complex catchy, high-energy and modern.”
INNtöne Jazz Festival
"Julian Siegel impresses with his quartet album."
Record Collector Magazine
“Siegel impresses with distinctive tenor sax choruses, his richly sonorous tone clearly on display.”
★★★★ Fono Forum
“The album steadily develops offering various tempos and moods.”
“Hard swinging... Undoubtedly one of Britain’s best jazz ensembles currently.”