Pianist Fabian Alzaman joined up with Linda May Han Oh (acoustic and double bass) and Henry Cole (drums) to form the Fabian Alzaman Trio for his new album. ‘This Land Abounds Life’ brings together the full jazz trio as into the kind of realm that GoGo Penguin and Mammal Hands. Fabian Alzaman is far more radically jazz focused. This is both a strength and a weakness depending on where you lay on the jazz spectrum.
Immediately from the opening notes of the furious ‘Benajmin’, the piano is bombastic and near freestyle. Notes on and off-tune and skipping around melody and time signatures. As a pianist, Fabian immediately wows you with his prowess and sheer speed. It’s something Henry Cole then has to chase him around with whilst Linda provides the framework to hold it together. The change of pace during songs is something is a penchant the album has. ‘The Nomads’ for example flits between cascading rolls and then stompy power stances. ‘The Everglades’ covers so much ground in its twelve minutes it feels more like a symphonic suite.
During the quieter times, the trio can also flex their emotional muscles too. The album refuses to stay in the pretty melody area for long. ‘Jaula’ has some utterly beautiful moments but then often slides into murky themes and feelings as the piano and bass slope down into bass murmurs. Often each track feels like you are along for the ride and nothing is off-limits.
It is that very point that makes ‘This Land Abounds With Life’ an album to be musically impressed by but highly divisive. It is difficult to get into the groove of an album when across the 86 minutes, you aren’t quite sure where you are going in the next few bars. For others though – this will be a thrill. It keeps you on your toes and wowed by what the trio are going to transform into next.
Frankly, this album is not for the faint of heart. You need to embrace and enjoy the freestyle nature of jazz to truly click with this album. Whilst after several listens, I’m still struggling to make that crucial connection, I cannot deny the sheer craftsmanship of all three players. Fabian Almazan is a fascinating composer and a formidable player. I think I’ll check out some of his more safer music but if you want to dive off into the deep end – this will be glorious for you.
Recommended track: The Everglades
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