Saxophonist Adam Nolan, front man, founder and namesake of the Adam Nolan Trio, described the music in his group’s recently released album, Prim and Primal as being “based on the concept of clean tidy musical expression mixed with the complete contrast of a more primal expression.” That is an apt description of the musical arrangements featured in the six-song record, which was released Aug. 19. That blend of approaches is on full display right from the 57-minute record’s outset in the form of ‘Expand The Tempo.’ The longest of the album’s entries, this song will be discussed shortly. ‘The Magic Carpet,’ the album’s penultimate entry,’ is another example of how that balance of improvisation and structure works to make the album interesting. It will be discussed a little later. Much the same can be said of the album’s closer, ‘Kung Fu Master vs. The Ape.’ Yes, that really is the song’s title. All three songs show in their own way, how Nolan and his fellow musicians – Dominic Mullan (drums) and Derek Whyte (double bass) – so expertly balance chaos and control here, and make the album in whole a unique presentation that any modern jazz fan will find worth hearing.
Adam Nolan Trio’s recently released album, Prim and Primal is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums. That is exhibited throughout the record. The record’s opener, ‘Expand The Tempo,’ is just one of the songs that does so well to show what makes the album stand out. Clocking in at nearly 11-and-a-half minutes, the song presents itself as a full-on improve composition with Nolan, Mullan, and Whyte each working through the song as it progresses. That might explain why it runs so long; it just develops organically. At the same time, what feels and sounds like a series of random notes and beats is really an interesting musical conversation between each musician. The group does not necessarily expand the song’s tempo at any point, but its performance expands that noted conversation. That is evidenced through the structure that seems to develop over the course of the song; this despite the controlled chaos that remains evident. Whyte’s bass line works well with Mullan’s polyrhythmic patterns to form a solid overall counter to Nolan’s work on the sax. The whole, from beginning to end, makes for a fully immersive, engaging and entertaining composition that does so well to show the mix of “tidy musical expression” and “primal expression.” Audiences will fully understand and appreciate that when they hear the song for themselves. It is just one of the songs that serves the end that Nolan described. ‘The Magic Carpet,’ the album’s penultimate song, does just as well to show that mix of prim and primal.
‘The Magic Carpet’ does well to show the mix of prim and primal again through all three musicians’ performances. Mullan solidly keeps time on the drums while also adding just the right subtle accents. Those accents come primarily through his use of the various cymbals on his kit. What’s more, the polyrhythmic approach is clear, too. Adding to that, the group’s overall approach in itself really shows the control. The manner in which each line is performed is where the more primal aspect comes into play. That each line compliments the others so well within all of that makes the song stand out so well, dynamics and all. It is just one more way in which the album’s overall approach makes the record work. The record’s finale, ‘Kung Fu Master vs. The Ape,’ is yet another unique way in which the prim and primal are balanced here.
Nolan’s full-on improved performance in the opening bars of ‘Kung Fu Master vs. The Ape’ and the eventual addition of Mullan’s semi-manic performance on the drums, creates a unique picture, considering the album’s title. The subtle start that leads into the all out energy between the pair creates a picture of something that is perhaps right out of an old Bruce Lee movie. Whyte’s work on bass serves to enrich that picture even more as it compliments Mullan’s work. Again, the whole song presents an air of structure even as the performances (especially Nolan’s) seem so primal and chaotic. One can only imagine what a scene, such as this would create. A painting would not even do it justice. Nolan is all over the place, as is Mullan, but even considering that, the noted direction in it all is just evident enough to make things interesting. The whole is as memorable and notable as the other songs examined here. When those songs are examined along with the album’s three remaining tracks, the whole makes Prim and Primal a presentation that any modern jazz fan will find interesting.
Adam Nolan Trio’s recently released album, Prim and Primal is a unique presentation. From beginning to end, its featured arrangements fully live up to Nolan’s description of the songs exhibiting an intriguing mix of “clean, tidy musical expression” and “more primal expression.” The primal expression presented within the arrangements against the bigger, overall structure in each work makes every work fully immersive, engaging and entertaining. Each of the works examined here does well to support the noted statements. When they are examined along with the rest of the record’s songs, the whole makes the album a work that any modern jazz fan will find worth hearing.
Prim and Primal is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Adam Nolan Trio’s latest news at:
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