Recorded live in concert, on September 8th 2021, at Iklectik in London, Under the Sun features a quartet of esteemed players from the London scene, Olie Brice on double bass, N.O. Moore on electric guitar, Rachel Musson on tenor saxophone, and Eddie Prévost on drums. Although this quartet is not a well-established group (it doesn't have a name), in the complex Venn diagram of who plays with whom there are many connections between these four musicians. For example, Brice and Musson play together in several Alex Ward groups, while Brice, Moore and Prévost have recorded together in various groups. More importantly, each of the four is high up the list when a player of their instrument is sought in London.
The music comprises two extended pieces which, at just under sixty-nine minutes, fill the CD. Straight away, the opening track, "Stealing the Final Arrow", makes it clear that this group plays jazz while straddling its boundary with improv. Altogether, though, it is probably best to savour this music without any thoughts of labels or factionalism. The album's first few minutes support this view; opening with a fluid, controlled pizzicato intro from Brice, we are then into an extended sax solo from Musson; across its four minutes she fluently combines phrases which hint at influences from Lester Young to Ayler and beyond, all neatly combined in her own inimitable way.
Mercifully, the quartet largely avoids the clichéd head-solos-reprise jazz format but the talent of each player is repeatedly on display. In Prévost's case that means he is showcased as a first-rate jazz drummer who has been compared to America's finest, in stark contrast to the cymbal-bowing percussionist who is a member of AMM and founded the renowned London improvisation workshop. Talking of which, Moore — also a stalwart and occasional leader of the workshop — repeatedly demonstrates why he has become one of the more in-demand guitarists in London; even when he is not in the spotlight, his subtle interjections and punctuation contribute immeasurably to the overall sound of the quartet. While the second track, "Scaring the Sun-Eaters Away — alluding to ancient Chinese sun myths", is longer at over forty-five minutes and is taken more slowly, it displays the same strengths as the first — a good balance between jazz and improv, excellent playing from each player, with the playing of all four weaved together in an exquisite whole. Not to be missed.
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