Ever since Edition Records’ sound engineer Matt Robertson captured the essence of Phronesis in their natural environment, on their debut and live recording Alive (Edition Records, 2010), comparisons with the late EST were inevitable.
The trio’s big and energetic sound, built around Jasper Hoiby’s brooding bass, propelled joyously by Ivo Neame’s piano and the astonishing drumming of Anton Eger — unavoidably replaced on Alive by drummer Mark Guiliana — created quite a stir among jazz fans.
Seasoned performers, the Danish bassist, British pianist and Swedish drummer have been together for 10 years and following the wonderful Walking Dark studio recording this is their fifth album and second live recording.
Like their Edition Records debut, this also is beautifully recorded by Matt Robertson over three shows at The Cockpit during last year’s London Jazz Festival.
While the band obviously revels in the live environment, spurred on by the howls and whistles from an enthusiastic audience, there’s no grandstanding solos here and the sometimes frenetic interplay is a three-way affair with the emphasis on the collective — although the virtuosity of Anton Eger’s drumming can’t be ignored.
Writing credits on the nine tunes get equal billing, with three ascribed to each. From the seven minutes and 57 seconds of foot-tapping brilliance of Anton Eger’s ‘Urban Control’, the sounds are instantly recognisable — uniquely Phronesis and wonderfully captivating
From the cello-like bowing of Hoiby on Ivo Neame’s ‘Phraternal’ and Hoiby’s ‘Wings 2 the Mind’, to the hurried and passionate precision of Eger’s drumming on ‘Herne Hill’, the album, which must be their best yet, is choc-a-bloc full of energetic catchy hooks and bursting at the seams with joie de vivre.
Coupled with the quality of the recording, it has the ability to teleport the listener back to London in November, 2013; with your eyes closed and the volume turned to 11, you can just about see the hairs standing to attention on the back of the imaginary audience’s necks.
As live albums go, you’d be hard-pressed to find better. Oh, please don’t beam me up Scotty.