Echoes – Kevin Le Gendre
If a strapline for the promotion of Oriole were needed, then how’s about this – the UK’s self contained neo-samba nova wave that’s well free of any ipanema coctail cliche. I’m playfully pumping the hype, but the groups eminence grise, the guitarist and composer Jonny Phillips, comes over in earnest as a British Cousin of Joao Gilberto. The crucial difference between Phillips and the Brazilian legend is that the former doesn’t sing but his diaphanus themes, his cogent grasp of the all-important concept of saudade and his placing of melodic narrative at the core of his work make the comparison credible. Band members Ingrid Laubrock(tenor sax), Ben Davis(cello), Adriano Adewale Itauna, (percussion/vibes) and Sebastian Rochford(drums) all bring as much finesse to the session as they did to the debut Song For The Sleeping and guests Julia Biel(vocals) and Idris Rahman(reeds) are artfully effective.
What makes Orioles easthetic all the more intriguing is that for all the obvious Latin inflections at play, there is a masterfully understated rock component in the music’s engine that loosely recalls the first phase of Everything But The Girl, who, of course, were influenced by Joao Gilberto amongst others. If your looking for finely-honed compositions and pert, astute improvisation that embrace Latin music, jazz and folk-rock all the while avoiding hackneyed vocabulary, then Oriole is probably as good as it gets.