In recent years it feels that jazz has undergone a makeover. A new crop of musicians has been releasing music that is exciting, whilst tapping into the rich history of the genre. One group that feels like they are on a roll are Phoenician Blinds. Since 2016 this quartet has released two glorious albums, each being a step up from the last. Now they’ve released their third, The Sight, The Seer and The Seen. It exhibits a maturity that comes from regularly playing together, whilst building on their eagerness of experimentation.
One of the tracks that exemplifies this is ‘Pineapple’. The way the graceful saxophone here gently blends into cascading piano, only to have the saxophone come back to the fore is a standout moment on the album. This shows an understanding not only of playing, but composition. Phoenician Blinds have a deft touch. That isn’t to say they don’t know when to let rip – sections of ‘Rush Hour’ are searing, and conjure up the feeling of start-stop nature of a commute. The main melody feels like when you are moving forward, but there are plenty of restless sections that echo the tension of being in a jam and that apprehensive feeling that you might be late. The standout track on The Sight, The Seer and The Seen is ‘Rhododendron’. Opening with abstract sounds and tones, it is filled with filigree piano, poignant saxophone and wistful percussion. There is a touch of a sad ballad about it. The emotional outpouring of the saxophone is reminiscent of the modal jazz of the late 1950s. But through this evocative jazz, lighter phrases start to emerge. Things calm down as the mournful outpouring starts up again. Then from nowhere the mood changes, things become lighter and more playful. It is so playful that you’d be forgiven for thinking that 1970s TV had started! The highlight of the track is the searing saxophone solo over knees up boozer rock.
On their third album, Phoenician Blinds have delivered their most ambitious to date. It is one that delivers huge peaks, while carefully crafting delicate valleys, full of graceful descents. It’s a meditative album that holds the power, if you let it, to transport you to another place. A place where the worries of the humdrum are washed away, and all that really matters is whether you should press play again. And of course, that answer to that is yes.
The Sight, The Seer and The Seen is released on 24th February through DK Records.