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.
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.