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Legentis



Legentis is a rich, textured album by Alex Hutton, perhaps one of the UK's most under-rated pianists, originally from Sheffield, but now based in London. He is joined by Russian virtuoso bass player Yuri Goloubev, and one of the UK's most subtle and musical drummers, Asaf Sirkis. Hutton has a distinctive style with a real sense of melody and drama, influenced by contemporary pianists like Esbjorn Svensson and Keith Jarrett. Wordless vocals, French horn, flute and cor anglais add colour to the arrangements, making this album a really varied listen.

The music moves easily from the euphoric dance-inspired riffs of the opening 'J.J' to a more impressionistic feel on pieces like the lovely 'Clouds'. Here Hutton invokes the sound of church bells, before some wonderful lyrical playing by both Hutton and Goloubev. 'The Legentis Script' has a very structured compositional feel, with vocals, French horn and flute framing the improvisational stretches of the piece. Hutton's playing on this is melodic but has a sense of direction reminiscent of Esbjorn Svensson. 'Then There Were Four' follows 'Clouds' with a theme based around cascading piano arpeggios. Whilst technically impressive, the music is never forbidding, even when the improvisation becomes more exploratory towards the middle of the piece, and the return of the theme at the end is both thrilling and uplifting.

The cor anglais duets with piano in 'Hymn 2 (We The People)', a piece imbued with a calm pastoral lyricism. 'Wonder Why' has a rocky feel, and like several of the pieces evokes the music of other contemporary jazz trios like the EST or Avishai Cohen, with a tight yet loose feel to the playing and a real head-nodding groove. 'Farewell 296' is perhaps the most melancholic of the themes on the album; full of subtlety, with Goloubev initially doubling up the melody line with Hutton's piano. Again Goloubev solos magnificently on this, before some of Hutton's most expressive playing.

'Crying Wolf' features the French horn, and has a dramatic main theme with a real filmic feel to it, interwoven with a folky counter-melody. The main themes lead into yet another of Yuri Goloubev's wonderful solos, backed sensitively by percussive touches from Sirkis and also Hutton, both subtle but never losing sight of the groove. Hutton's solo playing on this has a spacey feel, before the return of the main theme. Closer 'A Norsk Tale' is a piece for solo piano, beautiful in its simplicity, and a feeling that Hutton is somehow providing a musical epilogue to an epic drama.

This is a jazz album, but in common with many of the younger generation of jazz musicians, Hutton has absorbed influences outside the normal jazz reportoire to create music that refuses to be tied down to that label, and certainly deserves to be more widely heard.

by Now Then Sheffield