10/05/2006 Kerstan Mackness – Timeout
Guitarist Jonny Phillips might just be the next big star to emerge from the F-IRE Collective,the loose confederation of forward-looking musicians that include the Mercury-nominated Polar Bear and the hip-punk Jazz outfit Acoustic Ladyland, But while those bands embrace electronica, funk and rock influences, Phillips who played on the Polar Bear album and who regularly collaborates with folky songstress Julia Biel) is a different beast altogether. His music is a pastoral, impressionistic mix of soaring melodies and South American folklore that strives to create an aural form of magical realism. Dreamlike and beautiful, it sounds simultaneously contemporary and yet centuaries old.
His band Oriole are something of a F-IRE collective supergroup with big haired drummer Sebastian Rochford (Polar Bear, Acoustic Ladyland, Fulbourn, Taversham), cellist Ben Davis (Julia Biel, Django Bates), Lee Konitz-ish saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock (Monica Vasconcellos), claranetist Idris Rahman (Soothsayers), Danish bass player Anders Christensen (Paul Motion) and Brazilian Percussionist Adriano Adawali Itauna.
Their new Album ‘Migration’ is an early contender for jazz release of the year, a sublime, slightly unsettling but emotionally rewarding work that draws on folk, north Brazilian, West African and Mediterranean music. Like the Norwegian pianist Christian Wallumrod, Phillips conjures music that is quietly intense, beguilingly beautiful and full of pleasingly robust tunes that stay with you long after you hear them. Expect waltzes, gentle samba, persuasive grooves, poignant themes and uplifting melodies that’ll make you smile, think and want to dance.