Mammal Hands – Live @ Pizza Express Jazz Club
aaamusic | On 23, Mar 2015
Innovative jazz trio Mammal Hands comprises Nick Smart (piano), Jesse Barrett (drums & percussion) and Jordan Smart (saxophone). They have a tightness, eagerness and intensity which is reminiscent of Portico Quartet and GoGo Penguin.
Mammal Hands are influenced by artists like Steve Reich, Bonobo, Pharoah Sanders, Cinematic Orchestra and a variety of music from Africa and Northern India. Their debut album Animalia, released on Gondwana Records in 2014, successfully captured much of their energy and spontaneity.
At this Thump Festival performance the trio took diversely from jazz, dance, ambient, classical and electronica. Poetic and minimal ‘Snow Bough’ shimmered gracefully in its delicate winter landscape whilst the beautiful folk inspired ‘Kandaiki’ had a warm and impressive melody. Moody ‘Mansions of Millions of Years’ was gradually liberated from its slow rhythm to become vibrant, frenzied and seductive.
The fast and persistent ‘Bustle’ was tense, restless and catchy, whilst quiet and thoughtful ‘Spinning the Wheel’ became sparse, yet expressive and very colourful. A bold and intricate ‘Street Sweeper’ thrilled and ‘Inuit Party’, began simply but evolved into something frantic and chaotic. Melodic ‘Tiny Crumb’ showed the trio at their most spacious and hypnotic.
Mammal Hands create dynamic rhythms through repetitive patterns that are minimalistic in character. Always seeking new directions, they’ve been variously described as fresh, free, open, earthy and enchanting. They’re full of new ideas and play excellent compositions. True, unlike many jazz trios they don’t have a bass player, but this may help give them their distinctive personality.