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Mindscape

Jonathan Bratoeff Quartet
Mindscape F-ire 2010

The young, London-resident French guitarist Bratoëff has moved between lean, briskly executed contemporary postbop and a more abstract electro-acoustic music of slowly unfolding motifs and whispery percussion. This fine set mixes both, and is a continuation of the music he made on Between Lines (2005), also featuring bassist Tom Mason – but here saxophonist Mark Hanslip comes in for Pete Wareham, and young drum star James Maddren for Seb Rochford. It's a mix of purposeful avant-swing and drily eloquent sax and guitar solos alongside collectively improvised sections and patient explorations that avoid Bratoëff's tendency to drift. Bird Dance is a lyrical, long-winding guitar/sax theme over Maddren's light cymbal flickers; Bratoëff's echoey sound mirrors Hanslip's on the Wayne Shorterish track Transition; and the three improvised accounts of the title track explore fading hoots, metallic shimmers and synth chords. They give the set real contrast, wrapped around elegant ballads and some lively swing and Latin vehicles for Bratoëff's surging, dark-toned solos, and the whole venture has a more improvisationally relaxed and richly composed feel than its predecessor.
Jonathan Bratoëff Quartet
Tuesday 26 January 2010

By Chris Parker The Vortex

Guitarist Jonathan Bratoëff, in the 'Thoughts' section of his website, describes the basic position of a jazz musician as 'sitting between two chairs, on one hand keeping the "tradition" alive and on the other, the fact that we are living in the 21st century. The music must evolve with its time …'
Accordingly, he is constantly embarking on new projects (his three albums to date involve a quartet, electronics and larger forces, and a duo with drummer Chris Vatalaro respectively); 2010 sees him at the helm of a fresh quartet with long-time associate, bassist Tom Mason, tenor player Mark Hanslip and drummer James Maddren.
Airing new material, shortly to be released on a fourth album, Mindscape, this quartet proved an eminently suitable vehicle for Bratoëff's thoughtful, tastefully restrained but subtly powerful music: in Hanslip, he has found a kindred soul, like him capable of producing what Kevin LeGendre has memorably identified as the key elements of his art: 'an enigmatic, introspective quality … serpentine, sombre elegance'; in Maddren, a drummer adept at emphasising every nuance of rhythmic and dynamic variation; in Mason, an utterly dependable but lithe grounding force.
Bratoëff's melodies are often centred on softly descending sequences that provide useful markers in the solos to which they give rise, and both the guitarist himself and Hanslip exploited this characteristic skilfully in a delicate opener, 'Bird Dance', which slowly built in intensity courtesy of Maddren's restless probing and rustling, and later in an affecting ballad, 'Nothing Certain', in which Bratoëff's spangly guitar and Hanslip's bruised, plaintive tenor were propelled by whispering brushwork.
Interspersing meditative themes with more vigorous up-tempo (even occasionally bop-like) material, Bratoëff set out his new quartet's stall to great effect in this performance; Mindscape should prove well worth the wait.



Date 30/04/2010 Aol Music.
Jonathan Bratoeff Quartet - Mindscapes

This is the first album from Bratoeff performing under the quartet banner since 2004's Between Lines and shows off new additions to the band's line-up. On occasion, there are echoes in the guitar of Pat Metheny but also traces of John Scofield's more angular stylings. This is balanced well by the powerful saxophone of Mark Hanslip. The whole album is anchored by the rhythm section of Hanslip, bass and James Maddren on drums. With equal helpings of free improvisation and melodic exploration, this is a fine example of contemporary guitar-led jazz played with real feeling.
Rating: 7/10
(Review by Steve Grantham)




Disc of the day: 13-05-10 The Jazz breakfast
May 13, 2010 By Peter Bacon
Jonathan Bratoeff Quartet: Mindscapes (F-IRECD 34)

The second disc from guitarist Jonathan Bratoeff’s band finds a change in personnel since Between The Lines – now we have Mark Hanslip on tenor, Tom Mason on bass and James Maddren on drums.
All the compositions are Bratoeff’s, with the exception of a couple of the three parts of the title track, all atmospheric, free group improvs, and they show the guitarist covering a wide range with influences from Latin and African jazz as well as the usual time-tricky modern stuff.
Take Fallen Colossus – it slows and speeds with Maddren tight as always and the whole band managing to keep a relaxed feel and flow even while negotiating the tricky turns and switchbacks. The leader goes full steam ahead with the kind of jazz-rock sound we know from players like Mike Walker.
But on Ephemeral Light, Bratoeff investigates his more familiar sustain mode and rich chord structures on a lovely, spacey intro before Mason comes in to state the theme.
Hanslip is an ideal choice as hornman in a band like this – he has the harmonic originality for the tricksy stuff but also the rich tone and lyrical sense for the more  reflective pieces. My favourite track, though it is late in the evening and time for something more reflective, is Nothing Certain.
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