Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra – ‘Tales From The Jacquard’ – News, reviews, articles and commentary from the London jazz scene and beyond



Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra – Jacquard Tales
(Whirlwind Recordings. Album review by Richard Lee)

For 25 years, the saxophonist Julien siegel has established himself as a leading player in a variety of ensembles, including his own quartet. While this excellent recording is now four years old, its release cements Julian’s position in British jazz as a superb musician, composer / arranger and generous conductor.

Clearly motivated by something close to his heart – lace making was the life and career of Julian’s father, Bernard in Nottingham and the Siegels’ love of music was ubiquitous – the stories Julian spun from Jacquard punched cards and codes that guide the creation of intricate patterns in commercial lace production sparkles with creative energy. It is also clearly an intellectual challenge that he launched himself, to explore the mathematical, musical and systemic structures presented by the configurations of the cards.

A finely presented CD-wrapped accompanying booklet contains a fascinating essay by Julian on how he went about it, and of detailed – sometimes dizzying – complexity we received a terrific sequel that recalls in his work overall joyful sound by the Mikes Westbrook and particularly, Gibbs. The latter is not a surprise, Julian having been a key member of the 80s.e Birthday gigs which took place around the same time this was recorded and he clearly benefited from that influence. These are stories that beg to be showcased and the 20-strong ensemble makes their boss proud. All credit goes to Derby Jazz for commissioning it, Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts for hosting it, and Cluny Lace for helping with the research process.

The opening with the sound of the looms suggests that it could be some kind of audio Night courier, a review via a symphonic poem of the industry itself. The three movements in the suite are carefully constructed around themes and motifs that evoke mechanical rhythms and sounds of metal and materials stretched, spun and moving. Whoever opens parts 2 and 3 has either a Penguin Café or a folk tune; anyway, everything is wonderfully evocative without being merely illustrative.

And most importantly, these ensemble themes and passages are the springboard to exciting solos, especially by Claus Stötter on flugel and Tori ashlar on the flute at the head of the debates, and later in the third movement, old hands Stan sulzmann and Henri lowther. Julian follows up with his own smashing tenor to complete the suite which is generously formed to give maximum room to the prowess of the band members. At the base of the solo work are long-term rhythmic associates Liam Noble (which opens the debates rather nicely), Oli Hayhurst and Gene Calderazzo, who all take places themselves. Hopefully the sequel will have more releases, perhaps with an enterprising Midlands filmmaker providing additional footage of the Jacquards.

The following set is all of Siegel’s compositions except the final track, Julian’s arrangement of Walton’s Cedar Fantasy in D, which is taken off the cuff, breathing new life into this semi-standard, especially with its effortless tenor duet / duel with Stan sulzmann. Stan is also featured with Mike Chillingworth on viola have a lot of fun honking (sic) on Goose, a version much more impetuous than the quartet of Julian proposed on his album View, but completely suitable for a larger group.

There are more great solos to be had from Jason yard and Trevor Mires at Blues which opens the second set, with plenty of room for the orchestra and rhythm section to show their grip on things. So what is the most beautiful piece of the album for my money: the plangent Song was another original of the View album and its opening here, with Marc Rossignolagile paperclip and Percy Pursglovesoaring flugel solos, that’s something. Claus Stötter, guest of the NDR Big Band, deserves another mention here, winning solo trumpet honors in The missing link.

It’s always a pleasure to see Julian on the stand, where he showcased so many sets. It is therefore a pleasure to hear him direct his so pleasantly for all concerned. Jacquard Tales is an essential record of a jubilant concert, and the first of what will be considered a remarkable work of British jazz. In all senses, a homecoming for Julian: Bernard Siegel would be proud beyond imaginable.

List of tracks

Tales of Jacquard Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Blues; Song; The missing link; The Goose (all comp. Julien siegel); Fantasy in D (comp. Walton Cedar arr. Julien siegel).


Julien siegel: tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; Tom walsh: trumpet; Percy Pursglove: trumpet / flugel; Henri lowther: trumpet; Claus Stötter: trumpet / flugel; Marc Rossignol: trombone; Trevor Mires: trombone; Harry brown: trombone; Richard Henri: bass trombone, tuba; Mike Chillingworth: Alto saxophone; Jason yard: alto and soprano saxophones; Stan sulzmann: tenor saxophone; Tori ashlar: tenor saxophone, transverse flute; Gemma moore: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Mike Outram: guitar; Liam Noble: piano; Oli Hayhurst: double bass; Gene Calderazzo: drums; Nick smart: driver.

CONNECT: Tales of Jacquard on Bandcamp

Categories: Album review

Tagged As: Claus Stötter, Gemma Moore, Gene Calderazzo, Harry Brown, Henry Lowther, Jason Yarde, Julian Siegel, Mark Nightingale, Mike Chillingworth, Mike Outram, Nick Smart, Oli Hayhurst, Percy Pursglove, Richard Lee, Stan Sulzmann, Tom Walsh , Tori Freestone, Trevor Mires, Whirlwind Recordings


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