KAIROS 4TET; Everything We Hold (Naim Jazz)

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‘Everything We Hold’ is MOBO-winning Kairos 4 Tet’s third album and one of the aims behind the set was to broaden the group’s appeal. Leader and saxophonist Adam Waldman, Jasper Holby (bass), Jon Scott (drums) and Ivo Neame (piano) made their name as improvisers and that skill won them the acclaim of the serious jazz world. Those jazzers will still find plenty of that Kairos signature sound here. ‘The 99’ which opens proceedings and reappears in three more incarnations is a loose, sax-led meander that by degrees becomes cheerier then more melancholic in phases 2, 3 and 4. ‘J-Ho From The Block’ is built in the same way. Bass-led, its main attraction is Neame’s glistening piano which later assumes ethereal qualities on ‘Reunion’ and works perfectly with Waldman’s sax on the melodic ‘Finding Neamo’.

So far then, so typical – but in that attempt to broaden the appeal the rest of the set is made up of vocals on tunes that are much more focused than any of the instrumentals and in some cases offering surprising soundscapes. Case in point is ‘Home To You’ which features Irish vocalist Marc O’Reilly. Country pop is the predominant flavour here, while on ‘Narrowboat Man’ on which O’Reilly duets with Sweden’s Emilia Martensson, there’s something almost Celtic about the haunting tune. O’Reilly’s to the fore too on the dreamy ballad that is ‘Ell’s Bells’. UK soul man, Omar, is the other guest singer and he works his spell on the jerky, fractured ‘Song For The Open Road’ – one that should appeal across the board. Find out more about the mould-breaking Kairos 4Tet and this album @ www.kairos4tet.com

(BB) 3/5