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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Whirlwind Recordings



1. Personality Clash

2. Strata

3. OCD Blues

4. Miss Piggy

5. Crise de Nerfs

6. Eastern Chant

7. Folk Song

8. Snowfall

Ivo Neame - Piano, accordion, synths

Tori Freestone - Tenor sax, flute

Jim Hart - Vibes

Tom Farmer - Bass

Andrea Di Biase - Bass

Dave Hamblett - Drums

'Strata' is the fourth CD under his own name by British pianist Ivo Neame, best known for his work with the award-winning trio Phronesis. All the compositions are by Neame himself.

This quintet has been performing regularly in recent months with the excellent Tom Farmer as its bass player. There is no information on the CD's sleeve note as to when the listed second bassist, Andrea Di Biase, might be present on a track. Equally mysterious is a quote by Neame about there being `quite a few ups and downs experienced while making this album: carefully laid plans have gone awry...' Happily, there is no evidence of any tension within the quintet on this CD despite the enigmatic title of Personality Clash for the opening track. This is full of energy with ideas bubbling forth from all the musicians, fuelled by Neame's urgent playing. Vibes maestro Jim Hart contributes a flowing solo, while tenor saxist Tori Freestone moves from angry jabs to relaxed resolution.

Strata, the title track, has a delicate, bell-like opening which segues into a rhythmically complex but attractive piece, dominated by Neame's sensitive playing. OCD Blues, the longest track at just over nine minutes, features Hart and Freestone in free-flowing conversation until a calmer passage allows for a bass solo by (presumably) Farmer.

Freestone is an impressive performer, sometimes sounding a little like Bobby Wellins as she produces oblique phrases - as on Miss Piggy - and later creates a passionate, yearning solo on the Kletzmerish Folk Song. She also plays flute on Crise de Nerfs (no evidence of any nerves!), a track that is mainly a feature for Hart's virtuosity with the mallets.

Neame additionally plays accordion and synthesisers on some tracks. Again, I have to guess that these have been mixed in to the sound later as he is clearly also heard on piano on the same tracks. A little more information as to the recording process would have been helpful, but that's a small quibble in relation to the high quality of the music by this very talented quintet.

George Stacy

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