Arnie Somogyi's Ambulance - Accident and Insurgency - Jazzwise

This recording debut from Ambulance sets a vigorously high standard begining with a tune that's been in the band's live repertoire for a while, the furiously intense Walking Wounded, rich with horn heroics from Eddie Henderson who dazzles throughout. The Messengers-ish ensemble playing is hardly surprising considering the band's pedigree, but suddenly we handbrake turn into the seascape fantasy of Mick The Fish, replete with sampled vocals and swirling shingle effects. It's a magical scene evocative of the place where the album was recorded, Snape Maltings on the Suffolk coast. Then up the beach ambles Captain Courageous (along with Somogyi's walking bass) which in a way is the album's key cut - a loping groove, imaginative colours and then little solos illuminating constantly changing tempos as the band freely goes its own way yet mysteriously lands back on the beat and that daftly irresistible theme. A band that plays so freely with such a range of musical personalities is a rare and special thing. That unlikely mix of gentle attentiveness between musicians, a caring, unfussy, love of detail and a capacity to laugh and robustly stretch out makes this a joyous recording indeed.

23 January 2008