Nought to 60 with the Near Jazz Experience

Fooled by my own fool proof system must make me more of a fool than I give myself credit for. It’s an elderly memory malfunction thing, becoming commonplace. Like my lockdown skinhead idea. Skinheads fair as well as a bobcat on us elderly, what with hair sprouting from ears.

The ingenious strategy to create a word document called “albums which need reviewing” botched by forgetting I’d previous had the same plan and executed it, leaving me with two documents of the same idea differing information. So it goes, like a historic homework excuse, on the previous version I’d simply typed “NJE,” without the usual brief explanation, thinking that’ll warrant me not forgetting this. Rather, I’d forget the whole document and started from scratch, leaving me oblivious to what NJE was supposed to mean upon rediscovering it.

Abbreviation resolved, ‘twas the Near Jazz Experience mini-album “Nought to 60,” overlooked since June; I stated my defence and I’m sticking by it. Annoying thing is, as anything with the name Terry Edwards attached to it, it’s smoothing right up my street and blowing a saxophone loudly at my front door.

Near Jazz Experience sees Terry team up with Higsons bandmate Simon Charterton and Mark Bedford from Madness. Names on the tin, you get four lengthy modern jazz pieces of rapture, reminding me somewhat of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, in a mod style. Remember throughout; brass is class.

The opening ten minute-plus master-jam of cool, Spirit of Indo, pays homage to the London pub birthplace of the NJE, where they played a monthly residency for nine years. Like ambient afro-funk or cumbia it’s got that deep loop running through it, Bedders programmed, Simon embellished the groove, and Terry added the toplines, sliding effortlessly from one horn to another, as is his wont. There’s a real sense of improv here, and it spellbinds you to groove, man.

The second tune is a moving tribute to David Bowie, an instrumental cover of Five Years, and Simon’s minimalist cymbal-work sustains this fragile melodica melody, it tingles the very innermost of your soul.

The tempo moves up one notch, for the third track, Tizita, and I immediately call in the spirit of New Mexico jazz with this almost tin solider drum, rolling over the top, yet a little research reveals this is inspired by Ethiopian jazz-legend Mulatu Astatke, who Terry had the pleasure of working with a few years back.

Shows you how much I know, but I do know what I like, and me causing to ponder the wonder of Miles Davis’ influence, as the finale title track builds in layers to funk, seventies cop show score fashion, with Terry’s sax just freestyling over Teutonic beats on electronic Wave drum, and a Motorik bassline, it’s some seriously cool jazz; very nice indeed, though expected, just annoyed with myself it got mislaid in my inbox till now. Ah well, better late than never.


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