May 26, 2022

So we now come to those little words that can raise your soul to heaven or crush it in a heartbeat, yes, it’s time for ‘a bit of jazz’! I guess that jazz is the marmite of the music industry as it seems that you either love it or hate it and the most common criticism seems to be that the music always seems to fly off at tangents and you never know where it is going or when it will end, does this sound a little familiar? If you are a progressive rock fan then it should as this is always one of the negative aspects that I always seem to come across when discussing prog so, in one respect, prog and jazz are truly jolly old bedfellows! Of course, there are so many genres within jazz too from the sheer jollity of ShowTime jazz like the irrepressible Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen through the upbeat and jaunty Dave Brubeck culminating in the gargantuan Miles Davies with live sets that were very much the equal of a heavy rock concert. Indeed, anyone who does not own a copy of the Davis seminal album Kind Of Blue is very much poorer for not having this classic that is considered by many to be the greatest jazz album of all time.

If modern rock bands are daunted by the rock giants that walked the earth in the ’70s and ’80s then just imagine how a new jazz band must feel when they are just starting out in a genre with something like 120 years of history and some of the greatest music ever created from a huge team of absolutely legendary musicians. I guess the way to approach it is that you can only be true to yourselves and play what is in your heart and in that we now come to High Pulp, a relatively new Seattle based jazz collective, with their new album Pursuit Of Ends.

It seems that there is a core band which is expanded as and when required by a number of high quality jazz musicians with the team responsible for Pursuit Of Ends being Antoine Martel on keyboards, Victory Nguyen on saxophone, flute and trumpet, Andrew Morrill on saxophone, Bobby Granfelt on drums and percussion, Rob Homan on keyboards, Kaeli Earle on bass and Trevor Eulau on guitar. They then add the power and might of some truly sensational musicians with sax from Jaleel Shaw (Roy Haynes, Mingus Big Band), harpist Brandee Younger (Ravi Coltrane, The Roots), GRAMMY-nominated trumpeter Theo Coker and keyboardist Jacob Mann (Rufus Wainwright, Louis Cole) and collectively what a team they make. Together they have made a fluid and most cultured jazz epic that does everything that jazz should. It’s exciting, vibrant, poetic and exhilarating especially in the way that the band melds the jazz of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Chet Baker and John Coltrane with just a touch of the flair and excitement of the fusion musicians like Chick Corea, Allan Holdsworth and Jean-Luc Ponty.

Each jazz fan will see something different in each recording, such is the nature of jazz, but if this is your medium then you are going to love what High Pulp has done and the beautiful work of art that the musicians have created here. Jazz is a music that truly does come from the soul and with bands like High Pulp around then the genre is in safe hands. The temptation is to look to the past with jazz and why not when the greats have left us such a huge legacy of exquisite music but to look to the past too much is to ignore today and the future. We are blessed that we have bands like High Pulp, Phronesis and the GoGo Penguins plus musicians like Chris Potter, Reuben Fowler and even old stagers like Dave Holland to carry the torch for a music that will live forever.

If you are a jazz fan then you simply have to have this album and if not then give it a listen as it may just change your life.

Pursuit Of Ends

  1. Ceremony (5:40)
  2. All Roads Lead To Los Angeles (feat Jaleel Shaw) (4:42)
  3. Blaming Mercury (3:34)
  4. Window To A Shimmering World (2:39)
  5. Chemical X (4:24)
  6. A Ring On Each Finger (6:34)
  7. Kamishinjo (feat Jacob Mann) (3:21)
  8. Inner Crooner (1:39)
  9. Wax Hands (feat Brandee Younger) (3:37)
  10. You’ve Got To Pull It Up From The Ground (feat Theo Croker) (4:32)