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Press » Explications : Arthurs.Hoiby.Ritchie
Explications : Arthurs.Hoiby.Ritchie

It’s a measure of of the fearless diversity of a new generation of European jazz and improvising musicians that the UK’s F-ire Collective can embrace everything from original Latin-dance experiments, through Acoustic Ladyland’s or Polar Bear’s avant-fusion, all the way to flugelhornist Tom Arthurs’ stripped-down, acoustic trio music. British brass virtuoso Arthurs doesn’t throw much of a line to the unconverted in these brittle, restless themes and conversations shared with Danish bassist Jasper Høiby and Scottish drummer Stuart Ritchie. Some listeners may even hear the lessons of the late John Stevens’ Spontaneous Music Ensemble in this rather ascetic music. However, in their use of Dave Douglas’s or Steve Coleman’s highly organised rhythm-pattern motifs and its broad references, the trio are truly a contemporary band. Stuttery improv cat-and-mouse games give way to pin-sharp repeated motifs played in unison, dirgey slow melodies, camouflaged Latin music or enigmatically mellow reveries. But for all their apparently private preoccupation with the mathematical creativity of stretching and compressing note-patterns, this formidably skilful trio exude warmth, delight in their work, and a provocative contemporary lyricism that brims with potential.
[John Fordham, The Guardian ****]

If there was ever any question that trumpeter Tom Arthurs was a world class talent, then Explications leaves us in no doubt. This man is simply one of the finest jazz musicians to appear in this country for years. It’s no surprise then that this trio project, co-led by Danish bassist Jasper Høiby and undersung Scottish drummer Stuart Ritchie provides more than it’s fair share of musical thrills: eight explosive, open conversations evoking not only free-spirited modernists like Anthony Braxton, Ellery Eskelin and Jim Black, but even drawing inspiration from film directors (notably Jean Luc Godard and Andrei Tarkovsky). Despite an adventurous line-up, this intelligent, delicately arranged music is accessible and playful, from the jittery opener ‘Blind Chance’ to the expansive expressiveness of ‘Up From Sloth’. Throughout, it is clear that the trio are determined to listen to each other first and raise their musical responses second. As a result we hang onto every note as Arthurs’ full-bodied virtousity flutters, soars and collides with his partners to make music that is exciting and dynamically interactive. Høiby and Ritchie, meanwhile, are a great team. The bassist offers deep grooves but also fleet-fingered solo statements, while Ritchie’s energetic rhythms are a joy.
[Tom Barlow, Jazzwise ****]

…twisting on a dime… the group move as if all connected like a mutant string puppet… they are never short of weighty ideas… furious trumpet activity that abruptly jump-cuts into microscopic bass detail, around such intriguing juxtapositions is this album constructed…
[The Wire]

This is uncompromising stuff. A trio of flugelhorn, bass and drums might sound a bit exposed on paper, but in practice these three players produce music that is orchestral in its concept and execution. Tom Arthurs on trumpet and flugel sounds firmly in command of what is going on, while bassist Jasper Hoiby and drummer Stuart Ritchie pitch in with work that is supportive and suggestive of new directions for the music to take. There is an intensely rhythmic feel to much of the music and a sense of commitment from the players that makes it compelling. A group to watch.
[AV, Yorkshire Evening Post]

A modest trio date comprising flugel/trumpet, bass and drums and self-sufficient to a fault, but Explications exemplifies the best of small group improv. The playing is remarkably inventive, adventurous and sympathetic. The engagement of the musicians is palpable, and no tune outstays its welcome. Tom Arthurs keeps it simple on trumpet; Jasper Hoiby’s bass is centred and supple, while Stuart Ritchie’s wide-awake flurries advance the notion of the drum as melody instrument. Essentially, it’s friends having serious fun.
[Alan Brownlee, Manchester Evening News]

This trio mention everyone from Der Rote Bereich, Ellery Eskelin and Tim Berne to Andrei Tarkovsky and Jean-Luc Godard as inspirational figures, and their shifting, restless, multi-faceted music faithfully reflects this wide-ranging artistic adventurousness. Trumpeter/flugelhorn player Tom Arthurs provides most of their material, and it’s characteristically nervy fare, rattling along one minute, playfully repetitive the next, free at other times – but whatever its overall feel and approach, it’s consistently imaginative and texturally varied, setting Arthurs’s sprightly, animated playing against Jasper Høiby’s plunging, powerful bass and Stu Ritchie’s rollicking but sensitive drumming. Only one piece, ‘Up from Sloth’, is repeated from Arthurs’s wonderful 2007 duo recording Mesmer (Babel) with pianist Richard Fairhurst; otherwise this absorbing album comprises new work compellingly addressed by a fiercely interactive but thoughtful and musicianly trio. Recommended.
[Chris Parker, Vortex Website]

Tough discipline handled with verve and intelligence, most exciting record of the season.
[Jazz Review]

Their collective clarity of conception stands up magisterially.
[Mike Hobart, Financial Times]

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