With his brand new, socially-conscious repertoire on this album Re:Connection the bassist Greg Loughman brings the divide that is presently ailing Western society into sharp focus. Mr Loughman is highly articulate as a bassist and he combines this with a deeply meditative voice as a composer. Furthermore he uses his art to “speak” – or more appropriately to “sing” – with razor-sharp pizzicato and gravitas dark and gripping themes and narratives, each of which informs his seven-movement suite. He gives himself plenty of space and time to explore each [theme] with precision, exceptional range and refinement throughout, assisted by masterful arrangements and performances by his musical cohort.
Mr Loughman is a master of mood and atmosphere. He wastes no time in stating and the opening theme in “Disunion”. The poignancy is eloquently stated with extreme tension created by the knife-edge of his pizzicato on this movement. The bassist makes clever contrapuntal use of the melody of a classic Civil War era song “Darling Nelly Grey” referencing slavery and all forms of discrimination; This gives the bassist an opportunity to make his case forcefully and he makes full use of bittersweet song to the fullest, winding the listener up with “Isolation” before the sinister and cynical fury of “From All Sides”, which is the mid-point of the whole suite. Bass clarinets rumble and groan along with the contrabass and other moaning woodwinds, while the staccato rattle of the drums and incessant hissing of the cymbals is evocative of constant danger.
Upon setting up the disunity of society, the composer and bassist proceeds to offer a salve in the form of “Transition” where he cleverly uses moaning gestures – again elegantly and masterfully enunciated con arco. This is obviously meant to signal the transition from despair and desperation to hope and reunification of the disparate elements of society. Clearly the notions of unity and hope are deeply romantic but the vivid and rhapsodic melodies of “Grow”, “Home” and “Horizons” are meant to point the way to a resolution of all separateness in society.
Once again we find arrangements that enable the transition. The fluttering Turkish flute by Faris Ishaq, for instance and the airy syllabic vocalise voiced by Nadia Washington are superbly crafted into the music. The craftsmanship – both of composition and performance – gives this extended work extraordinary character. Each musician gives an idiomatic performance – led by Mr Loughman, of course. This elevates the music to a rarefied realm, something that the composer surely wished for at the outset. The debonair virtuosity and elegant swagger with which each movement is played makes for a truly meaningful recording overall. It is also the reason why this recording is likely to remain in the mind of discerning listeners for a very long time.
Track list – 1: Disunion; 2: Isolation; 3: From All Sides; 4: Transition; 5: Grow; 6: Home: 7: Horizons
Personnel – Greg Loughman: contrabass; Anastassiya Petrova: piano; Tyson Jackson: drums; Jerry Leake: percussion; Nathan Kay: trumpet; Dan Elbert: alto saxophone; Anton Derevyenko: tenor saxophone; Matt Stubbs: clarinet and bass clarinet; Nadia Washington: voice; Faris Ishaq: ney; Marc O’Rourke: guitar and sounds
Released – 2021
Label – Independent
Runtime – 44:21