Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Menagerie: Many Worlds (Freestyle)

Menagerie: Many Worlds (Freestyle) album review



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UK release date 15.01.2021

Lance Ferguson is no stranger to B&S, over the years we have championed his funk band The Bamboos on numerous occasions. This time Ferguson returns on a more heavy jazz tip with his 9 piece band Menagerie, who collectively draw the listener into the toughest of modal moods and boy they deliver the goods!

Strong themes, elevating vocal harmonies and stellar ensemble playing really cut the mustard on this release. They are not just regurgitating a particularly insular vibe that the likes of Coltrane and various others developed but bring a freshness with their take on this arcane and sub-genre of jazz. "Many Worlds" is just that sort of vibrant expression, fusing styles and backgrounds into an eclectic and powerful creation of improv and jazz composition alike.

Take the current single "Free Thing" - it's funky, it's cosmic, it's bold and Afro-centric. Or check out to the opener, the barnstorming and supreme "Hope". A modal piece of magic adorned with fat heavy-horns and a huge-great drum thump. Also worth a mention, the tenor sax solo by Phil Noy followed by Mark Fitzgibbon's strident piano bursts, is simply sublime. It's a wide range of expression, but it's all stunningly exposed and builds up into something quite majestic.

Title track "Many Worlds" sees Ferguson's guitar go off into stratospheric lift-off, mixing Grant Green with flashes of big-bad Benson too, leaving it wide open for an almost drunken like flugel, bringing this chestnut home to roost. Again, drummer Daniel Farrugia's hard grooves meld it all together like scotch tape! The Latin lilt of "Mountain Song" offers a different hue too with it's strong soloing throughout. There is an overarching sense of profound amazement throughout it all. Even for the secular listener, this is an album that speaks of something beyond the norm and reaches out.
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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