Killer Penguin

After four years from the great Attack Of The Killer Penguins, Welsh trombonist Gareth Roberts and his comrades – trumpeter Gethin Liddington, pianist Paul Jones, bassist Chris O’Connor and drummer Mark O’Connor – come back to help us forgetting the hard times in which we live, at least for 53 minutes. The fusion of constructive melancholy and detailed vibrancy characterizing these pieces – entirely penned by Roberts – is especially influenced by Charles Mingus and the Blue Note albums of the 60s. This retro mood is probably the winning card of Go Stop Go, a solid outing under every aspect.

The quintet’s mastery in maintaining the fluidity of the swinging energy even upon composed meters – the guys like to express themselves in seven, thirteen and the likes – is a thing to respect. Composing stuff whose pulse is not necessarily suitable for idiotically nodding with the head – jazz club style – is a rare feature these days, and there’s plenty here to rejoice for in that sense. Cock-a-hoop enthusiasm and profound eloquence are alternated in technically grounded, yet absolutely unsophisticated and unpretentious fashion. Singling out the musicians and what they do throughout the album is practically useless, for this is a record in which the collective orchestration and the overall instrumental yield are the features to admire. The playing is brilliant all over the place, be it enthusiastic or meditative. It’s human, for lack of a better adjective.

Any given track is convincing, but – should this writer be forced to choose only one – “Unlucky-Lee” would maybe win the contest: a frisky tune where each member has a chance to excel – either as a soloist or by becoming a fundamental element of the counterpoint – while the piece’s structure remains totally cohesive and engaging. The piano solo at the end of the last chapter – “Cwyn Mam-Yng-Nghyfraith” – is another favourite. In essence, this is a fine release by a self-propelling group led by an artist who, born as an engineer and math teacher, decided instead to leave cold numbers aside and let someone’s world spin slightly differently by managing to make those people smile, or just ponder about beautiful memories through his music. You have to be appreciative of this.

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