The Day I had Everything
It takes balls, I imagine, for a trio to record an eleven track CD, of entirely new compositions, without a drummer.
Is this a statement of intent? It ain’t necessarily so, because two of the three stellar musicians in Malija are better known for their day jobs with cutting edge jazz bands which also feature excellent drummers: saxophonist Mark Lockheart with Polar Bear and double-bassist Jasper Hoiby with Phronesis.
With pianist Liam Noble, they make up Malija, a group which, on the strength of The Day I Had Everything, has concocted – magically – a sound which is unique in its synergy, mirroring the impact on their careers of working and living in London.
So, if you choose to distil the experience of The Day I Had Everything purely from the anticipation of a Phronesis or Polar Bear fix, you will be both disappointed and deluded.
Lockheart and Hoiby come to The Day I had Everything fresh and as original as evening dew, segueing with Noble as if they have been friends for life (they first played together in 2009).
If you savour The Day I Had Everything as an opportunity to while away an hour drifting on a tidal flow of compositions as diverse in their synthesis as their deliverance, opening with the blues inflected Squared and closing with the classically imbued With One Voice – both written by Lockheart – you will absorb a brush stroke of extraordinary colour.
As a collective, The Day I Had Everything has been labelled as lyrical chamber jazz, but Almost A Tango and One For Us are the antithesis of a claustrophobic interiority. Chamber jazz for the great outdoors, perhaps. You can’t possibly box Hoiby’s Wayne’s World and Noble’s Mr Whack. All influences are at play: blues, bossa nova and even Bach. The Ligeti String Quartet gets a look in, but this homage to London as ‘the jazz burg’ of the 21st century references Bluegrass, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines and Wayne Shorter. The palette is panoramic
The Day I Had Everything, where the intercourse of the trio apes the narrative of the city in all its busy and cosmopolitan glory, the city and the music in the guise of cultural crucibles, arrived in the post at the tail end of 2015, but I have little doubt that it will remain one of my highlights of the next twelve months, and will forever magnify what is beautiful about new jazz.