The intuitive musical understanding Laura Jurd has with Lauren Kinsella here is certainly reminiscent of that of the late Kenny Wheeler’s with Norma Winstone, the pair intercrossing experimental improvising lines with brassy support from trombonist Colm O’Hara and particularly the unusual sound of bass saxophone Mick Foster a feature.  

An extension of the Blue-Eyed Hawk quartet – Kinsella, Jurd, guitarist Alex Roth, and drummer Corrie Dick – plus O’Hara and Foster also joined by Pigfoot co-leader trumpeter Chris Batchelor, the words and music written by Jurd owing their origins to a London Jazz Festival commission, the musicians recording in Wales back in June.

With an opening sequence a paean in the lyrics to a bird in flight (the artwork is full of pictures of Jurd with a hawk) ‘She Knew Him’ has a skeletal lyric developing more into an instrumental skirmish Jurd showing plenty of lateral thinking as Corrie Dick adds heat. Kinsella plays elaborately with words and the possibilities of her voice but sometimes it’s hard to make out clearly what she’s singing – maybe she needed to be differently miked or her voice enhanced in the mix – but there are plenty of different sides to what she’s doing here, almost singing to herself at times or simply more poetic in the Blue-Eyed Hawk vein (‘Brighter Days’).

The style of the album is hard to pin down. I suppose it’s chamber-jazz in a way. ‘Prelude’ almost has a liturgical feel and it is as if it should belong to a bigger suite and sometimes you feel the album is telling stories that somehow break off a little too soon. Kinsella is Christine Tobin-like on oompah-ish ‘Pirates’ one of the more conventional songs not that the album is obscurantist in any way although there is plenty of experimentalism throughout. I’m not sure if all quite hangs together but there are some great moments and the title track and ‘More Than Just A Fairytale’ particularly stand out. Jurd as a player, full of personality and vigour, just gets better and better.

Stephen Graham 

Released on 19 January. Laura Jurd is also touring in January beginning in Derby on the 9th