By Jon Ross | Published October 2019
British pianist Rebecca Nash begins her debut as a leader in an ethereal cluster of keyboard chords arising from a subtle electronic fuzz. Gentle wisps of arpeggiation float above her band, Atlas, as drummer Matt Fisher energetically unrolls a rhythmic pattern that wouldn’t feel out of place on a techno tune. This push and pull, coupled with a broad range of genres and ample electronics, is the thesis of Peaceful King, an album that promotes Nash’s catholic view of modern jazz. The eight tracks form a holistic argument that Nash, and her superb band, are at the vanguard of innovative and compelling new music.
Throughout, Nash and her cohort put their best foot forward on uptempo, quasi-frenetic tunes. “Tumbleweed” approaches the jagged edge of prog with a floating, world-beating theme that moves over rapid-fire tom rolls. The last tune, “Inishbofin,” is representative of how rock- and funk-tinged the band can get. In this raucous format, pointy bursts of music and aggressive solos aren’t dulled by ballad constraints.
Vocalist Sara Colman joins in for three tunes, too. These, however, are less immediate then the instrumentals. Nash and company are nurturing accompanists, and Colman has a fine voice, but the Atlas spark is muted here.
Though Nash could be referred to as a polyglot, none of her songs are overly showy, and each has an unwavering musicality at its core. Peaceful King hangs together as a fitting introduction to a band that has an expansive repertoire and can function proficiently—and sometimes captivatingly—in a wide range of styles.
Peaceful King: Peaceful King; Tumbleweed; Hot Wired; Grace; Dreamer; Lokma; Little Light; Inishbofin. (54:53)
Personnel: Rebecca Nash, keyboards; Nicholas Malcolm, trumpet; Tom Seminar Ford, guitar, electronics; Chris Mapp, bass, electronics; Nick Walters, electronics; Matt Fisher, drums; Sara Colman, vocals.