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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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  1. Hugger Mugger

  2. Yada Yada

  3. Hurley Burley

  4. Hocus Pocus

  5. Nitty Gritty

  6. Asturias

  7. Fugue

  8. Iron Pyrite

Julian Argüelles - Soprano sax, tenor sax, celeste

Kit Downes - Piano

Sam Lasserson - Double bass

James Maddren – Drums

Julian Argüelles, recently appointed Professor of Jazz Saxophone at the Kunst University Graz Institute of Jazz, Austria, continues to go from strength to strength. From his early days with the Loose Tubes collective through to his recent recording with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, he has shown a refreshing ability to innovate and impress whatever the context in which he finds himself. This latest disc features his quartet and shows the group, of three years standing, to be in fine form. Kit Downes, of course, has been steadily building a stellar reputation through his work as the leader of a trio and later of the Kit Downes Quintet, an outfit in which drummer James Maddren was also involved. Downes has also just made his first recording for the ECM label. Sam Lasserson on double bass, the other band member, is a graduate of Trinity College of Music. He has acquired considerable experience as a sideman, especially with smaller groups, over the past seven years or so.

I gather that Tetra was planned as a suite by Argüelles and certainly the album has the overall coherence you might expect from that. Every track has its virtues. Hugger Mugger is a lovely (and pensive) piece, albeit brief, with Argüelles on celeste. Kit Downes is rhapsodic and intricate on Fugue, while Iron Pyrite is something of a tour de force for Argüelles on tenor sax and comes to a storming finish. Yada Yada has an interesting eastern feel to it. The pieces I felt were particularly strong were Hurley Burley, where there is excellent rapport between group members, and Asturias with lots of scope for bass and drums but exceptional rousing tenor sax and admirable piano, too. This one really takes off! Nitty Gritty is the longest track at over ten and a half minutes and is a slow burner. Ultimately, it proves to be highly satisfying. Hocus Pocus, meanwhile, is blessed with an intriguing theme and, among a set of strong performances, shows Downes' complete sensitivity to what is happening around him.

Tetra will not disappoint admirers of Julian Argüelles' work. His own playing is superlative (though, I confess, I found him a bit raucous on Fugue). His instinct for music with a Latin flavour is especially pronounced. Asturias, one of the listening highlights on the disc, is based on Asturian Folk Songs (Asturias being a region and former kingdom in North West Spain). Best of all, his group are empathetic and responsive to the varied textures of his music.

James Poore

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