Nat Birchall - AkhenatenGondwana Records
The saxophone is arguably the most seductive instrument there is. The level of tonality and harmonies that the elite musicians create can captivate you unlike any other instrument. It certainly helps when you’re creating spirited music like Nat Birchall is doing on his release “Akhenaten”. Nat has been around for many years, thirty to be exact yet this is his first release as a leader since 1999’s “The Sixth Sense”. He has kept busy by working in Matthew Halsall’s groups as well as Arun Ghosh’s jazz ensemble. That’s a shame because “Akhenaten” is a deep spiritual session that will endear itself to all lovers of post bop jazz. It’s clear that Nat has been inspired by the likes of John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, his compositions feature a high degree of passion and sensuality and his solos can exceed long stretches. The disc starts out with “Mica’s Dance”, a haunting blues tune with a lovely melody and simple chords that the quartet elevates to greater heights. “A Prayer for…” speaks for itself, a moving gospel inspired tune that will send chills down your spine. “Many Blessings” is a beautiful ballad that finds Nat blowing passionately while pianist Adam Fairhall’s solos are majestic. What a wonderful record Nat has created here. With only four tracks listed here, let’s hope there’s another recording coming soon. For any jazz aficionado, this would be a welcome addition for your collection.
Reg Dancy, 11/09