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Dominic Ingham

Role Models

INGHAM 01 [43:04]

 

Role Models

Fall

Pj’s

Intro to Phones

Phones

Daydreaming

Bottles

Passport

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 a success.

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 jazz violinists.

‘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 again admirable.

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 enthusiastically recommended.

Glyn Pursglove


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