Boomkat Product Review:
Hugh Small of post-punk legends Vazz plays ambient jazz with Brian Allen Simon (Anenon) on their first album collaboration, finding a fitting home on Jonny Nash’s Melody As Truth
Best loved around our way for Vazz’s small but immaculate run of mid-‘80s releases, Hugh Small is also an adept solo pianist, as found on Stroom’s ’Submerged Vessels and Other Stories / Piano Music (2014-2016)’ comp, and here beautifully expounds upon that side of his art with multi-instrumentalist and LA lynchpin Brian Allen Simon of Anenon and Non Projects esteem, who was last on record remixing Ryuichi Sakamoto. Together they pursue a sort of liquid ambient jazz bliss and melancholy, bending cues from spirited classics by Alice Coltrane and Don Cherry with a healthy amount of their own musical personality for a sound described variously as “Ambient-Punk, Abstract-Jazz, Disaffected-Classical, it’s whatever the fuck you want it to be!’ :-)” by Hugh Small.
Over the album’s 10 pieces, Small’s keys meet a luscious haze of saxophone, synthesiser and guitar shimmering in close proximity to the styles of Jonny Nash’s recordings with Suzanne Kraft, but distinguished by a swooning freedom of the duo’s own making, appearing to these ears as a blend of rolling, romantic Scottish pastoralism and duskier, opulent LA panoramas. We can hear that fusion seeded in their take on Vazz’s ‘Kazimierz,’ which previously catalysed these recordings after Hugh serendipitously heard Brian improvising over it on his Dublab radio show, while the rest of the album follows on with all original material; air-spun vignettes of summer breezed keys and flights of fancy where their feet barely touch the ground.