Configuration (Ubuntu)

John Law’s Congregation

Released May 1, 2020

BBC Music Magazine Greatest Jazz Albums 2020

Spotify:

About:

In contrast to his Re-Creations project, this quartet plays exclusively John’s original compositions, designed to mix contemporary jazz and electronics, often playing over electronic music backing tracks and also occasionally mixing in elements from John’s past in the form of free improvisation from his free improv work in the 1990’s as well as going even further back, drawing inspiration from his classical roots.

A development of John Law’s Congregation trio project of 2014 (which itself came out of his Art of Sound trio project, with first Sam Burgess and Asaf Sirkis and then Yuri Goloubev and Asaf, with many years touring and recording) Congregation recorded the epic double album These Skies In Which We Rust which featured Josh Arcoleo, Yuri Goloubev and Laurie Lowe. Later tours involved Sam Crockatt on saxophones, Ashley John Long, James Agg and Oli Hayhurst on bass and Lloyd Haines, Dave Hamblett and Billy Weir on drums.

Then in 2016 the quartet line-up stabilised as Ashley John Long and Billy Weir as the dynamic rhythm section and featured, from Mercury Prize nominees Roller Trio, James Mainwaring on both saxophones and guitar and also doing a lot of the electronics that became gradually more and more a feature of the band’s sound and approach.

Track Listing:

1. The Kiss 03:56

2. And Them 06:49

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=sL7BFPYMFp8&list=RDAMVMsL7BFPYMFp8

3. Configuration 09:13

https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_k6AhzV3fsqP2IB-i5njav98x0yhc1SfWU

4. Scandinavian Lullaby 09:40

https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lOjE3iSQpx84g93F9NDfqhExSo_oDOQvQ

5. Processional 05:06

https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mlzM26RCSdM9rwirQaziEnYJyWS4_C9mk

6. Jazzshh… 05:29

7. Disfigured Bass 06:05

8. Through A Glass Darkly 07:57

9. Complex City 06:43

10. These Rolling Clouds 07:06

11. The Kiss (Memory Of A Kiss) 01:34

Personnel:

John Law: piano, keyboards, samples

James Mainwaring: saxophones, guitar, additional electronics (2, 8, 9)

Ashley John Long: double bass

Billy Weir: drums

Jasper Law: additional electronics (2, 5, 7)

Massimo Pinarello: organ (7 – a sample from Bach’s Organ Prelude in F Minor)

Recorded April 20/21 2018 at Chairworks Studio, Castleford, by David Watts

Mixed and Mastered by Roshan Wijetunge 

Produced by John Law

Executive-Producer: Martin Hummel 

Photography by Steven Cropper

CD Design by David Daniels

Review:

I first encountered the music of John Law in the early 1990s when he was working broadly at the avant garde end of the spectrum with his own quartet and that of saxist Jon Lloyd. As a pianistic prodigy he studied classical music, and drew on both the classical and jazz traditions with his outstanding 1994 album Talitha Cumi: Meditations on the Dies Irae. He has continued to range widely, as in the 2013 electronic set Boink! and his 2014 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

Configuration by his current band Congregation is something else again, deftly mixing in elements of rock and fusion, with some compositions echoing Minimalism, notably the two versions of ‘The Kiss’ which bookend the album. On ‘Disfigured Bass’ there is more than a cursory nod to JS Bach. None of this seems like contrivance, nor does it ever betray the jazz soul of the music. Whatever the springboard, the improvisations are fluid, compelling and well developed, ranging from funky to impressionistic (such as the opening section of ‘Scandinavian Lullaby’ with its effective use of electronics) and always gripping the attention.

BBC Music Magazine