A former teacher at the Leeds College of Music, and a Bollywood collaborator with Bickram Ghosh, this is Bannister’s Indo-Jazz flavoured debut album as a leader on which he is joined by MOBO-winning pianist Zoe Rahman, bass guitarist Kenny Higgins, known for his work with Omar Puente and Corinne Bailey Rae, and drummer Seb Rochford whose band Polar Bear is in the running for a Mercury again this year.
It’s Rochford we hear first chopping beats on ‘Kennergy’. When Rahman comes in after a solo from Higgins the quartal harmony-like modern jazz dimension she touches on melts into a beautiful Anglo-Bengali theme courtesy of Bannister’s melody line. The album is full of bittersweet melodies, a transcendental start to ‘Cojeste’ leading into pitch-bending hints and suggestions before Rochford, like a tabla player manqué, sits tight behind Bannister’s fast exploratory running. Rahman makes a stately elegiac opening for ‘The Pearl’ the subsequent vamp introducing Bannister who, like Arun Ghosh, is able to fuse a range of musics quite effortlessly, the IndoJazz sitting perfectly with the post-Coltrane.
Bannister on his own at the beginning of the deceptively titled ‘Screaming’ with the slight hum of a drone behind him as the tune progresses it’s clear has plenty of ideas and a strong presence as a soloist the band to an extent backing him. But what a fine unit it is. Strong material then altogether, quite tender on ‘Puriya’ and again on ‘Com Tensao’, Rahman contributing a great deal to the album’s success, ‘Dreamin’ at the end finding Bannister at his communicative best. A pleasure to listen to. SG
Released on 6 October