This album was to have been called Polaroid but in the end it was named ‘Flight’ and I’m really glad that name was chosen because you are going on a journey where the sax ( in particular) soars like the bird on the cover and there is a sense of space in all the tracks. Flight starts with the very sombre, haunting ‘Before’ played exquisitely by the Brodowski String Quartet. Marius Neset on tenor sax enters quietly on ‘Polaroid’ then the piano mimics, like a photo coming out of a polaroid camera. The track ‘Flight’ is slightly menacing and leads straight into ‘Henryk Part I’ – is this about Gorecki? I detect an air of sadness. There was nothing sad about Marius Neset’s album Golden Xplosion so it’s interesting to hear the reflective side of Marius on this album. ‘Henryk Part II’ opens with a lovely piano solo from Dave and ends with a quiet partnership between piano and sax- it cries out for live performance – this track will make you want to weep, it is so tender and gentle.
‘Whisper’ sounds like waves on the shore, or the quiet breathing of someone sleeping. It’s my favourite track because it’s delicate but strong. ‘Running East’ starts with strings again – you could be in the Purcell Room listening to classical music – at last I notice the drums played by Olavi Louhivuori from Finland and the feathery bass played by Dave Kane. Put this track on its own and you are in ECM territory, really Northern, spacious, cool and relaxed. ‘North Wind’ is the longest track at over 13 minutes and has three movements. You are coming to the end of the journey with a gentle opening movement, this isn’t a cold North Wind but a healing one, then the strings judder, swoop and glide enabling the sax to pick up the tempo. Then a last blast of storm from Marius. Finally there is peace and a return to the opening phrases. It’s very lovely and you are holding your breath in the closing moments as you don’t want to break the spell.
Sit in your favourite chair, turn off your phone and listen, several times. You will find beauty and depth of feeling in this excellent contemplative album and it will really grow on you. It’s going to be fabulous heard live and I for one am looking forward to the St George’s Brandon Hill performance in that perfect acoustic.
You can see Dave Stapleton and his ensemble in Bristol, Cardiff and London:
3rd May 2012 – DAVE STAPLETON – St. Georges, Bristol
4th May 2012– DAVE STAPLETON – Dora Stoutzker Hall, RWCMD, Cardiff
5th May 2012– DAVE STAPLETON – Kings Place, London, ALBUM LAUNCH
‘Flight’ is available from Edition Records: