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Gould, Victor: Clockwork

With the contradiction to 'never judge a book by its cover', played off against 'first impressions last', I can't deny that the excellent art on Clockwork, the debut solo release from pianist Victor Gould, immediately caught my attention. So, suitably intrigued, but trying not to get ahead of myself, it's time to let his varied take on jazz do the talking.

Gould has already built up an impressive CV working alongside Wallace Rooney, Ralph Peterson, Donald Harrison, Louis Hayes, Vincent Herring, Eric Alexander and more, so while Clockwork is the first album to highlight his name, he is far from being wet behind the ears. Something that comes through from the first note of the album's title cut to the last beat of closer, "Three Souls". Impressively neither is Gould here to simply tell you how good he is, rather the ever changing cast continually showcase the strength of the evolving compositions he has put together (only the Wayne Shorter piece "The Return" doesn't come from the main man himself). And evolve it does, for this is an album that grows and shape shifts from track to track, while still giving out an organic feel that allows you to easily partake in what can be a complex journey. If it's brooding atmosphere you're after, then turn to "Apostle John" for guidance, his uneasy beat and sharp cymbal interruptions grooving insistently, as Ben Williams' bass demands you lock into the rhythm. Gould however dances fleetingly but with real purpose over it all. Sharp and incisive one moment, fragile and pensive the next and when violin, viola and cello swoop uneasily in the scant space left, it's hard not to be swept up in the emotion. Impressively the sax work from Godwin Louis (alto) and Myron Walden (tenor) and trumpet incursions courtesy of Jeremy Pelt are equally vital to what is the album's most full on moment.

Nothing is over shadowed, "Sir Carter" clipped and precise, the hi-hat work from E.J. Strickland as regimented as his cymbal work a few bars down the line is languid and relaxed. That Gould and his cast can gather together these intentional dichotomies and make then sound as natural as flowing water leaves you convinced of his class. "Chaancé" illustrates that when the mood takes them, this collective can relax in a beautiful laid back mood, while "Blue Dales" brings technique to the fore, the darting time structures a challenge for all but those who play them, but in all the right ways.

It would be easy to believe that Clockwork was from the hand of a seasoned veteran releasing his tenth solo work and that his co-collaborators had been with him each and every step of the way; such is the confidence and class displayed. As for judging this 'book' by its cover? Who said you can't? The artwork certainly makes a mighty first impression but what's inside isn't overshadowed for even one second and it's that fact which lasts long in the memory.

Track Listing
1. Clockwork
2. Room
3. Chaancé
4. Blue Dales
5. The Return
6. Apostle John (Prelude)
7. Apostle John
8. Sir Carter (Intro)
9. Sir Carter
10. Nefertiti
11. Three Souls

Added: September 10th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Clockwork at Fresh Sounds Records
Hits: 1774
Language: english

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