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Issue 1101

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Review

Aaron Liddard: Nylon Man (Aaron Liddard)

Aaron Liddard

9

7.3

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UK release date 07.10.2022

Journeyman extraordinaire and top session artist, Aaron Liddard, delivers in style with his must-hear debut solo album, “Nylon Man”, named after the 3 cities (New York, London and Manchester) that influenced the supremely talented saxophonist. It’s a wholly ambitious affair, offering the listener an opened up freezone, where Liddard can experiment in an unhindered way.

Opener “Corean Castaway”, (a tribute to the late Chick Corea) is like many of the tunes on offer, an intricately constructed piece and is beautifully navigated by singer Giulia Marelli, who weaves effortlessly over the wide intervallic melody. Liddard’s sax break has a classic sound that reminds me of the great Ronnie Ross, especially in the phrasing and drummer Marc Parnell’s broken beat stylings get some heavy processing, as the tune develops and unwinds as it morphs into the sumptuous sounding "Frisco". It’s a joyous and uplifting ode to the U.S. city with a stirring and soaring vocal performance from Carleen Anderson, who contributes to an inexhaustible sense of fascination that the song musters.

"Together For Ever" has a Latin-tinged lilt that breaks out into a jarring, yet jazzy street groove. A crisp tight production sees our man of the horn teasing us with perennial flute and further into the track, Liddard lets rip with the imperious tones of his sax, bristling with energy and verve. This is top-notch songwriting, a startling duet as well, sung by Sannaliisa Ilkka and Sam Grimley.

Liddard has stayed true to his core identity and the 'group sound' while keeping up with contemporary styles. The melodic fragments are deeper and more substantial, exploring new sound combinations and capturing today’s jazz zeitgeist. The emphasis seems to be confirming a portfolio of creative compositions and expanding his art of arranging "Frisco" with its big band interjections being a case in point.

As well as Latin, funk isn’t very far away either, the neo-soul beats on "Apple & Pears" gives way to some extremely funky T Wah type guitar, it’s a beautifully sparse track and Liddard’s hard bop sax adds to the rich palette of musical colours on offer. It’s sublime, especially the Monk-like head.

There are many moods "Nylon Man" possesses and Giulia Marelli adds so much with her evocative, breathy style on the dream-like "Thru Your Eyes", it has a beautiful meditative coda which sets up the aforementioned "Apples & Pears".

"My Kinda" mixes things up style-wise and heavy riffage is the order of the day. It swoops and dives like a demented eagle deprived of prey and the sax break sounds more like a duduk than an actual sax.

"Nylon Man" is intense and focused and you can sense the unbridled joy of all the musicians (42 I believe). This is going to do Liddard no harm in cultivating a compositional reputation. Its edges and contours are rich and varied, highlighting an evocative power he has harnessed and it’s quite clear he aims to elevate from local to universal. In a nutshell, this album is "Essential listening.
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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