Life to Everything (Edition Records)
Released April 7, 2014
Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2014
Life to Everything is the new live album by Anglo/Scandinavian trio Phronesis, recorded over three shows ‘in the round’ at The Cockpit, London as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival in November 2013.
Since the success of their fourth album ‘Walking Dark’ two years ago, the trio have been on a meteoric rise, gaining acclaim from fans over two tours of the USA and Canada and a tour of Australia, whilst also rising to the forefront of the European club and festival scene. With so much time spent on the road and a reputation for spell-binding roller-coaster live performances, (which led to Jazzwise once describing them as one of the most exciting bands on the planet), it was natural for the band to want to record their fifth album in front of a live audience. In Høiby’s words – ‘performing live has been the strength of this trio from the start – it sparks an extra focus, excitement and joy. As the album title suggests – it’s where everything comes to life’.
With a highly developed musical understanding between them, onstage these three strong individual personalities are very much a collective, demonstrating an uncanny empathy and a telepathic singular sound like the synaptic firings of one mind. With totally balanced contributions by each band member, the warmth and intensity of the trio’s magical interaction is captured perfectly on Life to Everything, enhanced by the ‘in the round’ set-up of the recording, which as Høiby explains, was a deliberate choice ‘to provide perfect sightlines and an invisible thread of energy between us’.
Over the nine tracks, each member takes a writing credit for three compositions, yet the undeniable trademark Phronesis sound of catchy hooks, complex changes, crackling rhythms and heady grooves is present throughout – a testament to their skills as individual composers.
From the ‘big commanding tone and skittering composure’ (New York Times) of Høiby’s bass at the start of Eger’s Urban Control, layered by Neame’s inventive melodic piano lines and Eger’s relentless creative countercurrents, the sound is instantly recognisable as Phronesis. Life to Everything has the irresistible excitement, skillful flair and expansive compositional craft that result in undoubtably Phronesis’s most accomplished artistic statement to date.
1. Urban Control (Anton Eger) 7:52
2. Phraternal (Ivo Neame) 6:33
3. Behind Bars (Jasper Høiby) 9:00
4. Song For Lost Nomads (Ivo Neame) 7:01
5. Wings 2 the Mind (Jasper Høiby) 8:40
6. Nine Lives (Jasper Høiby) 6:34
7. Deep Space Dance (Ivo Neame) 5:02
8. Herne Hill (Anton Eger) 5:02
9. Dr Black (Anton Eger) 7:37
Jasper Høiby: double bass
Ivo Neame: piano
Anton Eger: drums
Recorded 16th – 17th November 2013, at the Jazz in the Round, The Cockpit, London – part of the EFG London Jazz Festival
Produced by Phronesis
Recorded by Matt Robertson
Mixed by August Wanngren
Mastered by Thomas Eberger Photography by Dave Maric
In the contemporary world of jazz, when bands form, record and split with reckless disregard for longevity, Phronesis seems to have been around forever. Danish bassist Jasper Hoiby formed the trio, which also includes British pianist Ivo Neame and Swedish drummer Anton Eger, in 2005. It approaches the end of its first decade by releasing Life To Everything— an emphatic recording from a band still filled with the enthusiasm of a group at its debut gig. Phronesis recorded Life To Everything at the Cockpit in London, during the 2013 London Jazz Festival. It’s the band’s fifth album and their second to have been recorded live—the previous live album, Alive (Edition Records, 2010) featured Mark Guiliana as a temporary replacement for the unavailable Eger. The high live:studio ratio suggests that the trio is happiest on stage. The band’s reputation as a live act bears this out and the energy that bursts out of Life To Everything—much of it from the dynamic and ever-creative Eger—gives the suggestion further credence.
Sound quality is exceptional—all three instruments are crisp and clear, thanks to the work of engineer Matt Robertson and assistant engineer Alex Killpatrick. The double bass is particularly well-recorded, capturing both Høiby’s powerful pizzicato playing and his more subtle arco bass. There’s great interplay between the three musicians—exemplified by Høiby’s exciting “Wings 2 The Mind” on which each man shifts smoothly from ensemble player to backing instrumentalist to soloist and back. There’s strength in depth in the songwriting department too, with Høiby, Neame and Eger contributing three tunes each.
Bruce Lindsay (All About Jazz)