thu 18/07/2024

Wild Card, Jazz Café POSK | reviews, news & interviews

Wild Card, Jazz Café POSK

Wild Card, Jazz Café POSK

Nu-jazz funksters revel in old-school melodic improvising

Clément Régert: propulsive groovesMatthew Wright

Jazz-funk organ trio Wild Card have been slowly building a reputation for smoking funk tunes and grooves you could lose a pantechnicon in for some years now. Led by French guitarist Clément Régert, with organist Andy Noble and drummer Sophie Alloway, they perform with quite a range of guests, both instrumentalists and singers, which keeps the atmosphere of their repertoire fresh and varied.

Their rise to prominence has accelerated recently with the release of their third album, Organic Riot, which has been garnering rave reviews internationally. It was launched last night at Jazz Café POSK, with guest performers trumpeter Graeme Flowers and tenor saxophonist Roberto Manzin (below left, with drummer Sophie Alloway).

The sound, especially of Régert’s plangent guitar and Noble’s Hammond, is steeped in funk, but the band’s extensive use of top-drawer improvised solos is straight from the jazz tradition. Every piece – most are Régert’s originals, designed for the purpose – gave scope for at least one scintillating solo. Régert and Flowers began, with gorgeous, twining melodies in the first piece, “Do U Wanna Know”. It wasn’t until “The Flood”, towards the end of the first set, that we heard Manzin’s full range, but he scorched his way through some sensational runs that seemed to extend the full range of the instrument. Noble, on Hammond, in some ways had the most difficult job, since his was the only recognisable bass instrument, and he also had harmonic duties to fulfil, though he stole the show on “Wild Card Theme”, his juicy tone oozing beautifully through the melodic lines. The band’s ensemble was superbly elastic throughout, with some lovely syncopation firing up the party spirit.

Wild Card bandThis is, in so many ways, a band best enjoyed live, yet for unfortunate reasons beyond the band’s control the two singers featured on the album, soul star Natalie Williams and French rapper B’loon, were unable to perform at the launch, leaving a couple of the songs feeling a little bereft, certainly compared to the recorded versions. The closest we got to protest music (you can’t stay angry listening to Wild Card), was Régert’s piece, the title track “Organic Riot”, about the 2005 Parisian riots, which simmered ominously, roused by Graeme Flowers’ grimy urban funk solo, but needed the extra plaintive power that rap vocals could bring.  

Ironically, Bricusse and Newley’s “Feeling Good”, sung by Williams on the album, worked superbly as an instrumental number, thanks to Régert’s sublime, driving solo that treated the melody – if anything, over-familiar from too many lukewarm renditions – like a diamond that sparkles from any angle, as he toyed with it. Though unintended, it was a refreshing new interpretation.  

For all the references to “nu-jazz” in the band’s publicity material, in method and in some ways sound, their approach is quite traditional. Many of last night’s players perform in the upper echelons of the fusion, blues and jazz-rock scenes, where melodic virtuosity is still in demand. Anyone who thinks the jazz scene has been surrendered to the squeaky experimentalists should take the disc for a spin. Sit back and let the adrenalin sizzle.

Anyone who thinks the jazz scene has been surrendered to the squeaky experimentalists should take the disc for a spin


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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