Since the early 1990s, keyboard player Jessica Lauren has been a familiar part of London’s alternative music scene. Jessica’s keyboard skills have augmented the live performances and studio recordings of world renowned artists such as Jean Carne, Tom Browne, Dexter Wansel and James Mason, Japan’s United Future Organisation, and UK soul diva Juliet Roberts.
Her previous Freestyle album ‘Jessica Lauren Four’ (2012) highlighted Jessica’s minimalist approach, something rare and refreshing in the jazz world: she instills her compositions and playing with a refined sense of space which makes her music as much about what she doesn’t play as what she does.
The albums’ opener – Kofi Nomad is a deeply percussive afrocentric epic, featuring the beautiful baritone saxaphone of Tamar ‘Collocutor’ Osborn, one of the most in demand woodwind players working today, underpinned by a powerful foundation of percussion courtesy of Richard Ọlátúndé Baker, Phillip Harper and drummer Cosimo Keita Cadore.
Jessicas’ amazing skill for writing simple, understated yet superbly memorable and catchy hooks remains undiminished. Highlights in this new collection are almost too numerous to mention, but Amalfi is a breezy bossa, which conjures up images of easy living days and sun dappled Mediterranean coastlines, whilst the angular and brooding Simba Jike has something of an Eddie Harris style deep, dark groove over which Jessica riffs and solos beautifully on grand piano – and Tamar once again blows freely, whilst ‘level’ Neville Malcolms’ upright bass figure roots the entire thing in a solid, almost primeval sound.
The albums closing statement Argentina is a masterpiece of pathos and perfectly demonstrates Jessicas’ approach which is almost akin to a minimalist architecture style of composing and playing, such is the strength of its atmosphere and subtlety.