Nick Granville Group: Refractions (Rattle Jazz)

 |   |  1 min read

Nick Granville Group: Ornette-Ology
Nick Granville Group: Refractions (Rattle Jazz)

Some months ago New Zealand guitarist Nick Granville answered our Famous Elsewhere Jazz Questionnaire on the strength of what was then his forthcoming album Refractions.

Well, that album has now arrived so we direct you back to his answers here because it also gives you a potted biography of his creativity and past work, which means we don't have to do it again now.

At that time Granville acknowledged this album was influenced by his admiration for John Scofield and anyone who is familiar with Sco's tune titles (which he told me his wife think up, as if to get himself off the hook) might note the amusing similarity here.

Among the quirky titles on Refractions are Shuffleupagas, Pinched Nerve, Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs, Ornette-Ology, New Orleans on a Long Lead and Muddy Side Up.

Here -- with saxophonist Roger Manins, bassist Olivier Holland and drummer Ron Samsom who seem to have become Rattle Jazz's in-house dream team -- Granville certainly brings much of Sco's melodic angularity and slurry wit to his playing on material like the slippery blues of Shuffleupagas and the chipping rhythms of Gloves Off.

But there's some earthy blues here too in the brittle and bruised New Orleans on a Long Lead which strips itself right back a couple of times in its nine-plus minutes and lets Granville sting'n'slur and Manins get a little darkly bluesy'n'woozy (it's been a long night in the Seventh Ward) then Holland walk those ill-lit streets in a solo which sounds like furtive footsteps. Then Samsom and Granville start bring it al back home, Samsom delivering some taut rolls and off-kilter emphasis.

It's terrific.

And so is the equally bluesy if rather more benign Muddy Slide Up which takes the familiar and turns it upside down.

Both the fluid Pinched Nerve and (obviously) the more stately and serious Ornette-Ology refer more to Ornette Coleman than Sco in their idiosyncratic variations on blues forms, but in many ways they also sound the more conservative pieces here.

These musicians -- that generation between young players and senior statesmen -- are constantly finding individual modes of expression within established forms or the tropes of those they admire, and Refractions (the perfect title for what is here) exemplifies that.

This is a fine album but there are certainly places where you wonder what they might come up with if they step just that bit further away from their preconceived thinking. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

Auckland Jazz Orchestra: Bloom (SDL)

Auckland Jazz Orchestra: Bloom (SDL)

For many decades, many New Zealand jazz musicians have done what the league players call “the hard yards” . . . jazz players were in high school bands (Grammaphone), navy bands,... > Read more

Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut)

Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut)

This transplanted jazz musician from Ethiopia (vibes/keyboards) has been one of the major (re)discoveries of the past few years. His ascent continues on this album which drifts to life on the airy,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

NU METAL IN 2001: Look at the nu boss, same as the old boss

NU METAL IN 2001: Look at the nu boss, same as the old boss

Heavy metal is for young men without a war of their own, wrote a wag in Creem magazine some time in the early Seventies. At the time Led Zeppelin were stomping across the planet delivering their... > Read more

GUEST WRITER OWEN WOOD looks at a doco about words and pictures

GUEST WRITER OWEN WOOD looks at a doco about words and pictures

Many years ago while working in London I met a bloke who was, like me I suppose, one of those identikit “something in the The City” types. We all wore the same suits, laughed at the... > Read more