Patrick Kunka (d), Leah Gough-Cooper (as), Alan Benzie (p) and Dylan Coleman (b), Rec. Feb 2009
It’s a bit early to be selecting a new-star album of the year, but this may well turn out to be it. Kunka, who hails from that ultra-hip jazz Mecca of Aberdeen, is a drummer and composer of outstanding promise. He and his similarly youthful Scots posse have amassed honours at Berklee and the New England Conservatory and appeared at jazz festivals in France, Switzerland and Panama in recent months. And yet they’re almost unknown here. Prophets without honour in their own homeland, one might say. Though broadly of the Tony Williams school of drumming, Kunka can also contribute to a ballad performance with taste and sensitivity, as on “4am”, Coleman’s bass feature here. Equally impressive is the title track, one of those spare up-tempo themes that sound hip yet are easy to play and beg for a strong solo to suit. Altoist Gough-Cooper is the winner here, a stirring discovery of Kenny Garrett-like intensity and creativity. Pianist Benzie has the ethos of Hancock and Corea under his fingers and builds a sophisticated solo. Indeed there are no weak links in this astonishing young band. Read Kunka’s webpage, track down a copy of his debut album on jazzcds.co.uk and enjoy. It may be a while before they play a club near you.