Intro to Phones
Dominic Ingham (violin, vocal)
Jonny Mansfield (vibraphone)
David Swan (piano)
Will Sach (bass)
Boz Martin-Jones (drums)
Rec. Livingston Studios, London; May 18-19, 2019.
The violinist – and occasional vocalist – Dominic Ingham will be known to
many followers of British jazz through his work with the popular and
successful group Bonsai. In that band he worked alongside his brother Rory
on trombone, keyboard player Toby Comeau, bassist Joe Lee and percussionist
Jonny Mansfield. Now, in his mid-twenties, Ingham has formed a new group
under his own leadership. The band’s first album has recently been released
but, sadly, the intended launch tour has had to be cancelled because of the
Covid pandemic (it is hoped that a replacement tour can be scheduled for
2021). For the time being the album is enough in itself to hail the band as
Scottish born, Dominic Ingham grew up in Scotland and Yorkshire, then
studied at the Guildhall in London and brings to his jazz both classical
training and experience in folk music. All the material on this album was
composed by Cunningham and his clever arrangements take full advantage of
the range of distinctive timbres made possible by the unconventional line
up (in instrumental terms) of the band.
On his website ( www.dominicingham.com) Ingham
notes that each of the compositions on Role Models was “inspired
by new music from the likes of Ambrose Akinmusire, Walter Smith and Camilla
Meza, amongst others”.
One is immediately struck by the absence of violinists from this list:
Walter Smith III is a fine tenor saxophonist, the Chilean Camila Meza an
accomplished guitarist and composer (in whose ‘Nectar Orchestra’ Ingham has
worked) and Ambrose Akinmusire is, of course, an outstanding trumpeter.
Elsewhere (though I can’t now remember where) I have read of Ingham’s
enthusiasm for the work of the guitarist Pat Metheny. I’d guess that one
jazz violinist who may have influenced Ingham might be Didier Lockwood.
Still, in most cases, the melodic lines of Ingham’s improvisations sound
more like those of saxophonists and trumpeters than they do those of most
‘Passport’, which closes the album, begins with an opening conversation
between Swan and Mansfield, subtly supported by Will Sach and Boz
Martin-Jones, that sounds like an updated MJQ, followed a fluent solo from
Ingham, full of slightly unexpected twists and turns, and then gradually
builds momentum through several tightly-played transitions of tempo and
dynamics. A very satisfying track.
Pianist Dominic Swan plays a lengthy intro to ‘Phones’, his playing both
crystalline and fluid, before he is joined by the rest of the band, with
Ingham’s contribution blending power and lyricism, before a richly creative
solo from the excellent Mansfield (playing vibraphone, rather than drums,
on this album.
On the title track, ‘Role Models’, the work of American bassist Will Sach
sets the pattern, along with Swan, for a rhythmically engaging piece;
Dominic Ingham’s extended solo is one of the highlights of the whole album
and the work of the Scottish pianist David Swan is also very impressive.
Drummer Boz Martin-Jones is, as throughout the album, exemplary in his
alertness, subtlety and responsiveness.
‘Daydreaming’ is a lovely, reflective piece, which couldn’t have a more
appropriate title. Ingham’s classical background is evident here, though
without any loss of jazz feeling, and the work of pianist David Swan is
On ‘Fall’ the vibraphone of Jonny Mansfield grabbed my attention and it is
not hard to see why he was awarded the Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize in 2018.
His playing throughout this album is absorbing and eloquent, something
which will come as no surprise to anyone who has heard his album Elftet (Edition Records EDN1130) – on which Dominic Ingham and Boz
Martin-Jones also play –and which deserves to be widely heard.
The fact that I have made no specific comments on ‘Bottles’ and ‘P’j’s’
should not be understood as an adverse judgement on those tracks. To have
discussed them would only have involved repeating the same kind of praise I
have happily bestowed on other tracks on Role Models.
This is rewarding album by a top-class quintet of young musicians. It makes
its unconventional instrumentation a virtue, rather than a limitation or a
handicap. The ensemble work is pretty well flawless, but never sounds
over-rehearsed and the interplay between musicians is frequently
exhilarating. I look forward to hearing the future work of all five members
of this band, whether together or separately. Role Models is