By Herb Boyd | Published October 2019
Through the lens of cinema is perhaps the best way to size up Laura Jurd’s Stepping Back, Jumping In, and even that might fall short of fully capturing a music imbued with a variety of images and a rainbow of colors. But conforming to a cinematic approach to composing necessitates a mixture of filmic themes to evoke intrigue, sci-fi, comedy, cartoons and the whimsical.
Whimsical isn’t meant to imply there’s anything capricious about this music. But throughout the album, there is an overall playfulness, a totally relaxing mood. The trumpeter’s profundity is neatly paired with a keen sense of humor—an ability to poke and provoke. And her improvisatory taste blends compellingly with the oscillating electronic phases that occasionally dapple her compositions.
“Ishtar” embodies these elements as it moves gradually across contrasting sonic expressions and tonal centers. There’s a moment of wonderful warmth amid Alex Paxton’s trombone interlude that embellishes Jurd’s dramatic fanfare. While “I Am The Spring, You Are The Earth” exudes a haunting pastoral sound, “Companion Species” is where Jurd and crew truly shine, especially the way the bandleader teases riffs against a backdrop of rumbling drums. Pleasant, too, are those instances when Jurd emits sizzling spurts, quickening the pace of an otherwise slow and meandering compositions.
In the end, the title might be on point. Even so, when the band jumps in, as they do on “Jump Cut Shuffle,” its capable of harnessing a full repertoire of cinematic motifs, making the album a galvanic soundtrack.
Stepping Back, Jumping In: Jumping In; Ishtar; I Am The Spring, You Are The Earth; Jump Cut Shuffle; Companion Species; Stepping Back. (58:03)
Personnel: Laura Jurd, trumpet; Raphael Clarkson (3, 5, 6), Alex Paxton (1, 2), trombone; Martin Lee Thomson, euphonium; Soosan Lolavar, santoor; Rob Luft, guitar, banjo; The Ligeti Quartet, strings; Elliot Galvin, piano; Anja Lauvdal, synthesizer; Conor Chaplin, bass; Liz Exell, Corrie Dick, drums.