Monday, 4 April 2016

WILL POUND & EDDY JAY

CD Review

Ignite

On paper the idea of making an instrumental album simply using harmonica and accordion doesn't sound such a great idea, however add the names of Will Pound and Eddy Jay and you have to take it seriously.

Will Pound and Eddy Jay
Pound and Jay have been involved in numerous and eclectic projects during their career, so whether this first album from the pairing is a one-off or a lasting collaboration remains to be seen.
But for now it's time to enjoy and revel in the boldness of the two maestros as they bring their respective talents together in what is a thoroughly enjoyable and evocative album of music and arrangements which are highly original.
Coming in like a train, opener Floating Candle rushes in to Jay's staccato bellows going 20 to the dozen before Pound's gobiron catches up and, from then on, it's a battle neither of them wants to win as they bounce their notes off each other like a blacksmith's hammer shaping red hot metal on an anvil.
Pound take presidence for the first part of the following track Barbarini's Tambourine, a tune from the 18th century inspired by Italian ballerina Barbara Campanini. Jay keeps a breathy, almost twitchy accompaniment as his notes dance along in sharp and precise fashion.
The Crooked Reel is the duo's playful arrangement of a French/Canadian creation. The pair are clearly enjoying themselves on this track and each player seems to be challenging the other to cram as many notes as they can into this fast-paced and highly entertaining piece of music. You can't help but notice Pound is showing off but you when you have his skill on the bone it's an indulgence to thoroughly enjoy.
Barbara Campanini
By the time you get to Clinch Mountain Backstep you begin to think Pound has the lung capacity of killer whale and Jay has more fingers than he is letting on. The energy of this bluegrass and blues tune is absolutely stunning and it's hard to understand where some of the sounds produced during the rendition come from.
Whether intended or not this an incredibly nostalgic piece, if you are of a certain age or a Spike Milligan fan then the duo's composition of Richard III is reminiscent of the interludes the BBC played during The Goon Show. They have caught the mood of swing music perfectly as well as captured a retro feel which is also spot on.
In comparison to the preceding tracks, Hangman has an almost lazy pace to it and Jay's use of the bellows gives it a feeling of old radio days when the sound used to fade in and out. This perfectly complements Pound's ability to add a slide to his parts on the harmonica which gives the piece a really unique character.
The Reckoning, composed by Pound, is the cleanest of the tracks in as much as it carries it's originality banner high. It neither alludes to the past nor is based on an arrangement and as such shows just how good they are in creating something from scratch. Pound again employs his rapid-fire technique with Jay underwriting it with the staccato breath of the bellows.
Their arrangement of an Andy Cutting tune, Flatworld, have an almost laid-back European feel to it especially with Jay providing a sound which could have been lifted straight off the streets of Montmartre. Pound even adds a tango style judder to his playing to give it even more interest.
The Barrowburn Reel is an arrangement of Addie Harper's tune. Jay and Pound give this a jazz slant with long drawn out notes on the harmonica and the accordion pumping in and out between.
The new album
The two musicians create a real urgency with Eklundapolska No 3. The staccato style used by both musicians gives it both a quick pace and sense of time running out, as if they are cutting the notes short to ensure they get every single one in. However, even within this Pound finds time to add some real highlights going up into the higher ends of the scale as Jay almost adds the rhythm section with his playing.
The album ends with music from the Balkans. With Rachenista, the duo capture the spirit of the region and the pace of the traditional dances associated with it perfectly. More than any other track on this mesmerising album you wonder how just two musicians can make so much sound and uncannily spread their tunes across what seems to be a range of instruments.
Ignite is bold, daring and extremely well executed. Pound and Jay have done what shouldn't have been feasible and not only have they done it well but they have set the bar pretty high for anyone who wants to follow in their footsteps.

Ignite is released on April 8 on the Concertone Label and distributed through Proper Music.

There will be two album launch events first as a live streamed gig from The Convent, Stroud on April 14 and then on April 18 they will do the London launch at The Green Note. You can also catch them at the Costa del Folk from April 24 to 25. The Big Session Festival, Buxton on April 30.