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Following the rapturous reception accorded to last year's Matthew Halsall album 'Sending My Love', Gondwana present Nat Birchall's debut for this young Manchester jazz label. Nat has earned a reputation over the past thirty years as an impeccable saxophonist. Initially inspired by the great horn men of Jamaica such as Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, Tommy McCook and Cedric Brooks, Nat found his way into the music of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, which in turn directed the development of his own voice on his instrument. His sound has been favourably compared to Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and latter day Charles Lloyd. Akhenaten, meaning effective spirit of Aten, was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt who attempted to compel the Egyptian population in the monotheistic worship of Aten, the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology. Over the four compositions that make up 'Akhenaten', Birchall's mastery of the saxophone flows throughout. The familiar jazz line up of double bass, piano and drums perfectly complement his lead, and combined they exude irresistible brilliance and a knowledge of the music's roots. 'Akhenaten' is a spiritual journey that draws from aspects of the work of John and Alice Coltrane - his playing throughout evokes the reverent hush of Sanders' 'Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord', but all channeled through Nat's absolute focus - the expression is natural, the performances effortless. The opening motif of 'Nica's Dance' sets the tone for the album with a vibe that unfolds into a Coltrane-informed session. Make no mistake - these are serious musicians at work; the solos rise and dip, adopting a formal approach to the musical form, each player passing the lead. The sparse free-form beginnings of second track 'A Prayer For' are given focus by Nat's horn gradually developing into the laid back, syncopated groove that is the album's title track 'Akhenaten'. Finally the fourth piece 'Many Blessings', brings the album to its close with an air of sublime optimism.
Biographie der Mitwirkenden
1999 saw the release of Nat's debut album 'The Sixth Sense' which earned a four star review in Jazzwise, finding its way into the editor's albums of the year list. Since that time Nat has been honing his skills, working quietly on his craft, slowly but surely progressing towards a style and concept that best communicates his view of the universe. Nat's versatility has led to the realization of several musical projects over the years, including a collaboration with Turkish folk jazz percussionist Akay Temiz, his ground breaking mid-90's jazz-hop group 'Corner Crew' and the heavy roots reggae of Dubdadda. Currently performing with Matthew Halsall's various adventurous ensembles (Nat plays on 'Sending My Love'), Arun Ghosh's Indo-jazz ensemble, Jon Thorne's (ex-Lamb, Danny Thompson collaborator) Oedipus Mingus project, not to mention guitarist Gary Boyle's quartet, Nat is continually sought after as a respected session musician with a unique, expressive style of communicating. He is also a respected DJ, possessing a frightening knowledge of golden era reggae and spiritual jazz, which form the basis for his live sets.