CD REVIEWS: Guy Hatton’s Pantechnicon (album)

wkd. The best of Harrogate's alternative musicians wait to play live at the Blues Bar, organised by Graham Chalmers (front row centre). 19010416a.
wkd. The best of Harrogate's alternative musicians wait to play live at the Blues Bar, organised by Graham Chalmers (front row centre). 19010416a.

JAZZ has never been more respectable in classical circles or popular in the world of café chains than it is today.

But what sort of jazz?

Not the thrillingly boundary-busting sounds of artists on Impulse Records in the late 1960s or the restlessly creative music of Miles Davis in his early 1970s heyday.

Which is the very area former Harrogate man Guy Hatton and a collection of talented musical friends from Leeds and beyond decided to explore when he debuted his Pantechnicon extravaganza at Harrogate International Festival Fringe in July 2010.

This permanent record of that heady night was recorded earlier this year in Mutts Nutts studios in Leeds with the following line-up:

Guy Hatton (guitar), Phil Meadows (alto and soprano sax, electronics), Graham Clark (electric violin), Dave Evans (keyboards), Roger Inniss (bass) and Jose Williamson (drums).

Away from the unpredictability of live performance, this modern jazz suite of eight, lengthy tracks composed by Hatton take the crossover spirit of the likes of Weather Report into the modern day in a sophisticated, slick fashion.

There are occasional dissonant moments here and there where this small electric guitar ensemble threaten to slip their moorings, parts of the hyperactive Turf War and laidback Mendocino Redwood, for example.

Overall, the band move through the multiple phases of musical style and tempo in an accessible, warmly melodic way, always bringing the listener back home safely.

They can certainly handle a good tune; the highly catchy, upbeat Halcyon Hill would make a perfect soundtrack for a long-running TV series show on BBC 2 while the smoky blues of The Middle of the Outside of Nowhere is equally memorable.

Asides from the fact, the instrumental narrative gives predominance in the solo sections to lead guitar and electric violin almost as much as sax or keyboards, what gives Pantechicon its special flavour are those elements of more recent music history which float in and out of the mix.

Ambient. Rave. Electronica. The modern world.

Pantechnicon is an enjoyable musical journey impressively at odds with the likes of Buble or Callum. With a bit more boldness and a dollop of danger, it could have recaptured the pioneering spirit of old.

Graham Chalmers

l Pantechnicon is available on iTunes, Amazon etc.

www.pantechnicon.guyhatton.com