Reviews

Svarc Hanley Longhawn @ Matt and Phred’s, Manchester

‘ Svarc Hanley Longhawn (Matt and Phred’s), a guitar driven jazz-rock trio on the model of Tony Williams’ Lifetime, are… interminable.’

Review by Dyverse Music

Svarc Hanley Longhawn @ The Bridge, Newcastle

Review by Lance
This was a high powered gig that hit the deck running with some fancy stick work from Hanley. This wasn’t your usual Organ Trio band. No funky grooves (at least not initially), instead, floating ephemeral sounds that, before our very eyes/ears, built up into a groove merchant thrash and from Newcastle we were transported by the magic of sound to Harlem, or was it Detroit? or maybe the South Side of Chicago?

These three push all the buttons, tick all the boxes. You want funk? you got it? You want Jazz? It’s right there. Maybe you want to go a little towards the outside? They’ll take you there and bring you back in one piece.

Svarc, joined at the hip to a Gibson 335,  produced some amazing sounds and ran through the changes like the morning after effects of a Chicken Madras. Yes contemporary they may be but the roots were there. Night in Tunisia still stands up to the test of time and I guess it always will as long as young guys like this have it in their repertoire.
Not surprisingly, given that they had a Scofield tune in their set, Svarc is obviously one of the great man’s leading disciples
Steve Hanley is not only an exciting drummer but he also composed several of the compositions. What is the world coming to? Drummers who are also musicians? One day we may even have politicians who appoint Arts Ministers who realise that jazz too is an art. One of Steve’s numbers – don’t ask me – there weren’t many announcements but this one, a funky opus that crept up on me, brought to mind Mohammed Ali because it “Floated like a butterfly – at first and then, by Round 12, it stung like a bee – and in case you think this is a crit – it was a honey bee!
On the Nord CI Longhawn produced some near Hammond sounds – close your eyes and you may or may not detect the difference.
It was a great gig and well worth waiting to catch the later 27 bus.

Svarc Hanley Longhawn – “For The Greater Good” album review

 

From the opening few bars of “Portals” there is an almost palpable sense that “For The Greater Good” will be a release that is built up on intelligent compositions, executed by musicians that are not only highly competent in their field, but have a sensitivity for the music that raises them up above some of the more pedestrian releases. Here we have Nik Svarc on electric and acoustic guitar/loops, Steve Hanley on drums and percussion and Martin Longhawn on organ and keyboards, and hearing the album through for the first time was almost akin to hearing an album by one of your favourite artists on the ECM label through for the first time. You are assured quality not just in the playing and composition, but also in the production and the packaging. The music progresses intuitively as each individual player subtly contributes to each piece without ever disturbing the delicate balance. “Portals” moves at a variety of paces and moods which are sometimes suggestive of electric era Miles Davis, particularly the organ sound which occasionally echoes that of Keith Jarrett and/or Chick Corea around that time. To many jazz enthusiasts, this one included, evoking electric Miles Davis can only ever be a good thing. The guitar playing here has a sense that it was informed by “Blow By Blow and “Wired” era Jeff Beck, in that is successfully crosses the jazz/rock border without losing the integrity of either genre. Built up almost on a number of differing musical movements, “Portals” displays stunning musical dexterity and composition that should be of interest to supporters of a wide range of musical approaches such as jazz, avant garde, rock and modern classical. “Like a Primate” features some beautifully restrained guitar lines that bristle crisply over the ethereal organ sound to create not only deeply moving music but also phrases that can almost be picked out as “jazz earworms”.
There is almost a discordant texture to the guitar work on “It’s Cold Outside” which suggests the guitar of Sonny Sharrock, but which Svarc infuses with his own personality. Looped phrases and plaintive guitar lines add further colour and dynamic. “Heavy Sky” showcases how contemplative and melancholic the organ and acoustic guitar can sound together, whilst the albums closing “Exit” brings together the delicacy and dynamism of the previous pieces and uses those qualities to put together music that not only may be loved by jazz enthusiasts but may also be appreciated by lovers of “progressive music” in general. The album closes on a majestic crescendo that is yet another of the many disparate characteristics that go up to make one of the album releases of the year for this reviewer. Gracefulness and power are very difficult to attain without upsetting the equilibrium, but this release manages that fine balancing act with a great deal of dignity.

 

Svarc Hanley Longhawn – “For The Greater Good” album review

 

By Jazz in York

Here’s a recently released album by another Leeds based ensemble fronted by guitarist Nik Svarc. It seems like an appropriate time to do a quick write up about the album as the band will be playing at The Phoenix Inn at the end of this month. Check the events page for more info. Although the band has the classic organ trio line-up,  this is not in the vein of Jimmy Smith and the like. Rather than swinging standards…ambient grooves, post-rock jams and Krantz-esq solos are the order of the day. Svarc demonstrates his technical command of the guitar once again and his uses a variety of sounds to great effect. York born pianist Martin Longhawn does an excellent job of holding down the (sometimes quite complex) bass lines while helping to build the texture of the pieces with tasteful right hand comping. Steve Hanley helps keep everything together nicely with some particularly tasty grooves on the opener ‘Portals’ and the ambient epic ‘It’s Cold Outside’

For me, the album walks the line between jazz and rock nicely and the same goes with the production. All of the instruments are clear but not over produced which helps keeps a live feel to the recording. You can get this release from the trio’s Bandcamp page at http://svarchanleylonghawn.bandcamp.com for a mere £5 which is a bargain and you can see them at The Phoenix for free, which is even more of a bargain. If you’re a fan of Jon Scofield, Wayne Krantz, Troyka, etc or just want to hear some interesting new music then check out this album.

 

 

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