Island Mentality – Chaos Collective ★★★★


Laura Jurd (t, dir), Jennah Smart (fl), Rob Cope (clt), Simon Marsh, Will Scott, Mike Underwood, Greg Sinclair, Leo Richardson (s), Rob Greenwood, Tom Dennis, Mike Soper, Matt Roberts (t), Raphael Clarkson, Emma Bassett, Rosie Turton, George Wrench (tb), Alex Roth (g), Elliot Galvin (p), Conor Chaplin (el b), Corrie Dick (d), Lauren Kinsella (v) and Mark Lockheart (ss). Rec. July 2013

If there’s one thing the trumpeter Laura Jurd’s Chaos Orchestra doesn’t have, it’s an island mentality, the title she’s given to the debut CD. Made up of the Chaos Collective’s mostly Trinity Laban Conservatoire alumni, a relaxed and open-minded approach to creative music making is the young 20-piece ensemble’s calling card. Hotly tipped experimental Irish singer Lauren Kinsella is among the guests and she sings with folky assurance on Jurd’s musical setting of a John Donne poem; there are echoes of Ellington in the arrangements for ‘Oh So Beautiful’, and a more free improvising sonic approach is demonstrated on another Jurd-Kinsella collaboration ‘Horses for Courses’.

Meanwhile, the spirit of the hit British 1980s ensemble Loose Tubes is never far away, on Jurd’s ‘Giant’s Causeway’ and saxophonist Simon Marsh’s Township-ish ‘Yoh’, and Loose Tubes saxophonist Mark Lockheart is indeed here to contribute the uplifting Gil Evans-esque ‘Strange Attractors’, his 2012 commission for the orchestra on which he also plays soprano sax. Guitarist Alex Roth’s ‘The Charm of Impossibilities’ comes the closest to contemporary classical music. Chaos co-founder and upcoming pianist Elliot Galvin’s Cecil Taylorderived solo and the piece’s eerily sparse neo-noir-ish textures suitably round off a thoroughly engaging, versatile set of new music.

– Selwyn Harris