Vortex – Oriole/Migration

Chris Parker – Vortex Web Site

Club regulars will already be familiar with Oriole’s first album, Song for the Sleeping (F-IRE CD03), even if only subliminally, since it’s frequently played between sets. This, the band’s second album, has many of the debut recording’s virtues (striking Jonny Phillips melodies imbued with deliciously wistful melancholy courtesy chiefly of the blend of the leaderÍs delicate guitar work, Ingrid LaubrockÍs perfectly judged tenor contributions and Ben Davis’s haunting cello; a judicious balance of compositional and improvised elements; the subtle power of Seb RochfordÍs drumming, tellingly complemented by a cleverly selected range of percussion sounds, from castanets to the humble egg), but is more powerful overall thanks to the coherence of its programming. This springs mainly from its overarching theme (in Phillips’s words: “a story of joy and longing born from an irresistible impulse to travel but never to arrive”), but also from the ease and naturalness with which the composer/guitarist utilises a range of instrumental sounds and rhythms from musical traditions with which he’s entirely at home (rather than seeing them as a range of lucky dips containing “exotica” to be tacked on to his music to give it a spurious eclecticism). Highlights include the softly lilting opener “Forms in Dust” (to which Laubrock contributes a flawless, cunningly multi-textured solo); “Bate Calado” (which blends Idris RahmanÍs clarinet with gentle percussion and subtle vocals); “Sunshine Continuous” (a more robust Cuban dance piece) and “Last Flight” (a slowly drifting lament dealing with transience), but the entire album is entrancing, affecting and compulsively playable. Unreservedly recommended.”

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