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(53:15, Moonjune Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Mars Saffron 6:10 2. Restless Mountains 4:15 3. The Way to Etretat 7:56 4. A Conversation We Had 4:50 5. A Thousand Faces 3:23 6. Voltaic 8:38 7. Summer Night's Story 5:41 8. Koromo's Tale 5:16 9. Proof of Light 7:06 LINEUP: Mark Wingfield – guitars Yaron Stavi – basses Asaf Sirkis – drums
Prolusion. UK composer and guitarist Mark WINGFIELD has been a recording musician for well over a decade, and has released a grand total of nine albums where he has been either a standalone solo artist, band leader or a main collaborator so far. As such he easily merits a description as a well established musician. "Proof of Light" is his most recent production, and was released by the US label Moonjune Records in 2015.
Analysis. The odd one out on this CD is the opening number Mars Saffron. This dream-laden yet firm creation heralds as many references to classic instrumental power trios as it does to jazz, the kind of music fans of artists like Jeff Beck might find interesting, complete with some subtle, jazz-tinged details. It is a thrilling manner in which to open this production, but also one that doesn't really correspond with the additional material at hand. Which merits mentioning to those who want to check out this album at some point. What follows is a production mainly revolving around instrumental jazz-fusion, with a few nods in the direction of traditional jazz rock, interesting and at times stunning in form and execution, but fairly different from those opening 6 minutes. Wingfield's guitar is central throughout, as one might imagine. His flowing, ethereal guitar solo has a dream-laden otherworldly sound to it, a smooth, delicate presence carefully wandering, floating and surging in an organic manner, a deliberate and flowing presence with a subtly cold yet also hauntingly emotional character, more melancholic than joyful, and with some token scale runs tossed in here and there, for the sake of variation, to maintain tension and to add a subtle taste of the unpredictable. His chosen rhythm section is instrumentalists of high quality. Mainly focusing on a distinct jazz-oriented delivery for their chosen instruments, they’re just as able to deliver the fine, delicate details as they are in taking the limelight for a more expressive dominant position in the arrangements or to deliver a solo run. The compositions are somewhat different in character, as one would expect, and personally I found Restless Mountains to be the most stunning of them, perhaps because it reminded me of Jan Garbarek's ‘Twelve Moons’, which is one of my desert island tracks from the jazz realm. Careful, haunting and melancholic excursions are a key feature throughout here, and the shorter pieces have a distinct emphasis on those, with bass and drums given some expressive moments from time to time. Those who have a stronger affection for jazz-fusion escapades of a more generally expressive nature will find their tastes mainly covered for on the longer tracks Voltaic and Proof of Light, the former a more vibrant affair with more of a distinct improvisational character, the latter one book-ended by a harder edged and tight arrangement with a gentler, careful effect and reverb type of experimental middle. With an excellent and spacious mix and production that provide plenty of room to each of the instruments used as the icing on the cake, this is a really well made album on all levels. Arguably most breathtaking early on, but that will be a matter of individual taste first and foremost.
Conclusion. Apart from the more mainstream rock-flavored opening piece Mars Saffron, "Proof of Light" is an elegant and haunting CD that should cater for those with an interest in instrumental jazz-fusion quite nicely. An affection for the guitar as the main lead instrument is warranted, alongside an affection for the fairly distinct floating, gliding and almost ethereal guitar solo style that is a key feature throughout. A high quality album on all levels, and one easily recommended to the audience defined.
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