"Led by Barbados-born drummer David Carnegie, this recently formed outfit has quickly established itself as the most dynamic group to emerge from the North East in years. Their first few gigs, including an appearance at the recent Sage Jazz Festival, have attracted a new young audience alongside hardened jazz fans, showing that this is a music that still has plenty to offer." so says Jazz North East about Extreme Measures, whose mixture of straightahead, funk and modal jazz takes the listener on a melodic journey of diverse texture and colour, sure to engage not only the casual listener but also more seasoned jazz aficionados.
Extreme Measures'' debut album, eXm, demonstrates an uncanny ability to combine lyricism, openness and fervour into a captivating musical journey. Stylistically diverse, eXm possesses a sincere enthusiasm for the many genres explored, while preserving an overall grace and simplicity of approach.
The CD opens with ''Plainsong'', one of many explorations into the modal jazz tradition. It alludes to the musical development from Gregorian chant with its use of 4ths and 5ths. This track features solos from Gary Turner, Jamie McCredie and Ben Gilbert; each with very different interpretations the theme.
''Branksome Ave.'' is an uplifting piece, full of joy and well being and emblematic of a period in the life of the composer (Stuart Davies - b) which he describes as: " ...some of the greatest times of my life."
''Black Bag'' is a wistful look at a more traditional style of straightahead jazz but in no way lacking sincerity or respect as the band relishes the opportunity to just swing and have fun.
The next offering is far from traditional. ''Bloom'', while being the only ballad on the album, tends toward the abstract as time is felt and not played for most of the piece thus allowing for more ethereal descriptions of the subject matter.
This is followed by the moody ''Descent'' which alternates between funk and another rhythmic ostinato, while the soloists explain why. On this entertaining journey, one is treated to some compelling arguments by Jamie McCredie(g) and Gary Turner(ts) the composer.
''Schizm'' combines a sparse groove with a lyrical melody in a style somewhere between Hip Hop and Rock. Primarily a guitar and drum feature, this crowd pleaser culminates in a stirring drum solo by the bandleader who does not disappoint.
''Harewood Blues'' is the only blues on the album and even this is in 5. Dedicated to jazz great Al Harewood, it is also the only track over which everyone has a ''blow'' so to speak.
''This ''n'' That'' is a fun mixture of second line drumming, southern guitar and good ol'' home cookin''. Add to that the confusing cultural reference that it is actually named after an Indian café in Manchester and you''re off.
The penultimate track on the album is the enchanting ''Cleansing Breath''. Sparse and prayerful, the soloists take their time creating melodies over the trance like grooves.
The album is completed by the haunting ''Colours of 6'' a piano feature and quietly reflective piece with an underlying intensity that eventually surfaces until it is exhausted, leaving only the poignant strumming of the guitar that was there at the start.
EXM is a mature first effort by a band that is uncompromising in its approach to the beauty and sincerity of the music.
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