Hopper, Hugh/Jan Ponsford/Frances Knight/Vince Clark - The Swimmer (special)

"Hugh Hopper is ever the surprising chap, always trying new, different musical avenues. Here he's having a go with that atmospheric kind of ECM type jazzy thing, where nimble creation and diversion, mix and clash, with instrumental textures and breezy female vocals. Alex Cline, Azimuth or Michael Mantler is the area I'm thinking of, although this is markedly different, not least with Hugh's bass, but in Jan Ponsford's restrained vocalising. Frances Knight plays her keyboards firmly in the Euro/Canterbury-jazz mould, ably supported by Vince Clarke's 60's styled nimble drum-work. On the whole, this one of the jazziest things Hugh's done since the days of his Franglo-Dutch band, and adds another surprise to his ever diversifying CV of releases."-Audion

"Jan Ponsford's wordless vocals on The Swimmer skitter seamlessly across jazz, South American and Eastern European influences. It's a blend that is now de rigeur for British female 'jazz' vocalists, so it's easy to forget that Ponsford was one of the originators of the style. Pianist Frances Knight, doubling here on accordion, is always a pleasure, too rarely heard - her light, easy, free-ranging touch providing the atmospherics. Yet another ex-Soft Machine alumni, Hugh Hopper, adds sinuous electric basslines on this one, demonstrating again what an individual player he is. And drummer Vince Clarke frames each twist, and there are several, with a spontaneous precision. My only complaint is that Ponsford remains too high in the mix for too long for the delights of the other three to be truly savoured."-Rubberneck

"What a beautiful encounter! In the left corner, keyboardist Frances Knight, percussionist Vince Clarke, and bassist Hugh Hopper, a trio of musicians accustomed to each other. In the right corner, vocalist Jan Ponsford. The Swimmer was recorded on October 15, 1998 at Delta Studios in two one-hour sessions, later edited to 63 minutes. Everything was improvised on the spot. Ponsford's vocalizing is reminiscent of what Theo Bleckmann did with the Ben Monder Trio: soft vocals with lots of echo soaring over the music, fitting the changes in the imrpov, hugging it (like on "Uszibarasc"). Her singing is very melodic and comes from the heart. She can go from ballad mode to scat mode in no time, always finding the best way to serve the moods worked out by Knight, Hopper, and Clarke. And what moods! Jazz grooves, Brazilian feels, and some things improssible to describe. But The Swimmer remains very easy to listen to. There is no "noise work" here, no sound pollution; everything stays rather tonal and jazz inflected, but at the same time totally free. Clarke's light percussive work usually gives a flooring under Knight's cascading piano or organ grooves, while Hugh Hopper works out some incredible bass lines. And that wonderful voice. The Swimmer makes a great record of lighter improvised music."-Francois Couture/All Music Guide

Bookmark and Share

  • LabelVoiceprint
Your Price $9.00

Customer Reviews