‘Sleeping Giants’ by Unfurl
Formed by violinist/bandleader Olivia Moore, Unfurl is a Manchester-based collective that draws upon contemporary jazz and Indian classical music, partially inspired by Moore’s studies with revered Hindustani violinist Kala Ramnath. While the work of John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra are a clear touchstone for this type of Into-jazz fusion, the pieces on ‘Sleeping Giants’ tend towards a brooding, textural quality as opposed to displays of intense virtuosity. This subtlety of approach gives every piece room to breathe, allowing the skill and nuance of every musician ample space….. With recording having started in 2015 and completed remotely under lockdown, Sleeping Giants is an unhurried and sonically generous work, rooted as much in English natural folklore as in Indian classical tradition, giving it a quiet sublimity.
‘Owl’ by The Owl Ensemble
Essentially, a string quartet with a jazz pulse, Owl Ensemble exude the exquisite melancholia that comes so naturally with plangent cellos and violins. Theirs is music of great clarity and space. On I See You, they point both forwards – to the gently rippling waveforms of minimalism – and backwards: to something that can only be described as enchanting bush music. But though Owl’s creative driving force, violinist/composer Olivia Moore can scrape and swing, as on the Stuff Smith-like interlude on the rambling Shall We Dance, her forte is art-house lyricism.….….….Sweet rather than severe, The Owl Ensemble transcend from the tasteful to the sublime.