Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Bring To Light
5 April 2019
Tight Lines Records
Album Rating 4.5 / 5
Live Potential 4.5 / 5
Solo Performances 4.5 / 5
Diversity in Songs 4 / 5
Favourite Songs Cold Sweat, King Kobra, Luminescence pt. 4, Tune For Moira
It’s been a busy few months for alto saxophonist Jasmine Whalley and her quintet as they released their debut EP Bring To Light in early April, which triumphantly demonstrates how they construct songs imaginatively and make them gush easily with flair and groove.
As well as the group being a part of the larger Leeds jazz ensemble Têtes de Pois, who released their fantastic EP Framework in February, the quintet has played around Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds since the start of the year, supporting the likes of London’s saxophonist Nubya Garcia and also featured on HPBC’s Leeds jazz compilation To Be Here Now in 2018. Jasmine was also a beneficiary of the Jazz North Introduces scheme that offers upcoming artists exposure at leading jazz festivals in the north. She has featured at Manchester Jazz and Ribble Valley Jazz festivals already and will feature at Durham and Scarborough jazz festivals throughout the summer, giving the group further opportunity to show their talent.
The EP starts off with ‘Luminescence pt. 1’, one of three excerpts that build up to and sample the EP finale ‘Luminescence pt. 4’. Listening to all the parts together, they seamlessly create an ambience of laid-back luxury as ‘pt. 1’ has delicate trickling keys from George MacDonald (Skwid Ink) and guitar strings from Ben Haskins (Ben Haskins Quartet), which embraces the whirring sax in ‘pt. 2’ accompanied by an echoing guitar staggering along before Owen Burns’ (Garde Dog, GROWtrio) bass rumbles a low murmur alongside sparse drum and cymbal touches by George Hall (Skwid Ink) in ‘pt. 3’. ‘Pt. 4’ starts with the drone-like bass resonating before the staggering guitar and melodic sax push in as they adlib whilst the piano rings out almost nighttime-lullaby notes before the drums enter properly on the ride cymbal to really illuminate the rest of the band in the outro.
The second tune ‘Cold Sweat’ has a long spooky keys tone that is made scarier by Jasmine’s eerie minimal sax pattern as the rest of the rhythm enter to enhance the mysteriousness of the song. The sax solo grows in dynamics and vigour as Haskins reverby guitar keeps a mood of apprehension before he matches Jasmine’s solo as they move towards the initial riff again to maintain this strange, intimidating mood. ‘King Kobra’ has a tasty melody that is split up wonderfully between Jasmine’s sax phrases and the rhythmic break that starts the song initially. The change to a shuffle pattern whilst the sax gets louder and higher adds a great dimension as the song from then on allows for a disciplined bass solo from Burns whilst MacDonald’s piano stabs edge around parts of the melody, and then MacDonald solos just as impressively before each time returning to the addictive bopping melody.
Both ‘Interlude’ and ‘Bring To Light’ have funk and hip-hop elements to them (Jasmine sees MF Doom and Madvillain as her main influences), with Jasmine comping over them to create chilled vibes in the former, and much livelier boogying in the latter. ‘Tune For Moira’ is a superbly smooth groove that swings naturally, as Jasmine has an extremely mature approach to produce such a timeless sax melody that could easily have come from any of the jazz greats. What’s even more impressive about this song is the seamless transitions in time signature to 5/4 as the sax screeches out over the simple piano crotchets bouncing along before this moves into a sensationally satisfying 3/4 pattern as an additional sax is added on top for further depth.
This EP is a fine product of the blossoming bunch of musicians coming through Leeds College of Music and associated heavily with the Tight Lines crew and confirms exactly why the jazz scene is becoming more popular in Leeds. Bring To Light delivers an excellent blend of skill from all the quintet and they are able to generate a distinct style of using jazz concepts in a modern way with funk and hip-hop influences so they become provoking, boptastic beats.
Jasmine Whalley - Alto Saxophonist; Ben Haskins - Guitar; George MacDonald - Piano / Keys; Owen Burns - Bass; George Hall - Drums.