Nicholas Malcolm - trumpet
Tom Seminar Ford - guitar / electronics
Rebecca Nash - piano / keys
Chris Mapp - bass / electronics
Matt Fisher - drums
Sara Colman - vocals
Nick Walters - electronics
Recorded at Highbury Recording Studio (Oct 2017)
Engineer - Luke Moorish Thomas
Mixed by Ben Markland
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (Aug 2018)
Engineer - Ben Markland
Mixed by Jules Jackson
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (Nov 2018)
Engineer - Ben Markland & Tom Stanford
Mixed by Jules Jackson
Mastered by Peter Beckmann
Produced by Rebecca Nash
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
Photography by Rosa Goodchild
Album Artwork by Ning-Ning Li
Graphic Design by Monika S Jakubowska
released July 26, 2019
ABOUT THE ALBUM
The exciting cross-pollination of music, especially discernable around the sphere of contemporary instrumental and vocal jazz, has become a strong, progressive feature of today’s fresh, creative outputs. Keyboardist and composer Rebecca Nash is becoming increasingly visible in this area of the British scene; a major player in Entropi, Paradox Ensemble and Sara Colman’s band, as well as an educator with the National Youth Jazz Collective, Cheltenham Festivals, Birmingham Jazzlines and Birmingham Conservatoire.
In her first major recording as leader, Atlas’s debut release Peaceful King interlaces a panoply of strands – rock, drum-and-bass, ‘70s fusion, soul-jazz and electronica, alongside singer-songwriter influences – into a widening landscape of beauty of wonder. The regular line-up of longtime associates Nick Malcolm (trumpet) and Matt Fisher (drums) plus Thomas Seminar Ford (electric guitar) and Chris Mapp (electric bass, electronics) is augmented here on three numbers by the rich, intuitive vocals of Sara Colman.
Rebecca describes an album with collaboration at its heart. “Nick, Matt and I go way back. Nick and I both think about music in similar terms – he’s contributed greatly to this recording, often making artistic sense of the seemingly nonsensical! We just have that connection, and I’m completely obsessed with his improvising. Tom and Chris (of upcoming band Stillefelt) perform together often and are really creative with electronics, so they generate walls of sound which tune into the more cosmic vibes and abstract harmonies that I love; and Matt provides the band’s rhythmic energy and interest (I grew up in Bristol – hailed by many as the drum-and-bass capital of the world – listening to Portishead, Massive Attack, etc.).”
Illustrator/musician Ning-ning Li has incorporated impressions of Nash’s eight tracks into the album’s sumptuous cover art. A distinctive electric piano figure announces title track ‘Peaceful King’, whose electronic effects (by Paradox’s Nick Walters) maintain a positivity explained as a reaction to the current state of the world, while free-flowing ‘Tumbleweed’ buzzes and bleeps with a redolence of the Pat Metheny Group. Mainstream pop-grooving ‘Hot Wired’ carries Sara Colman’s melodious lyrics (about a “sassy, feisty female”) on a wave of flittering percussion and soulful keys before hazily-opened ‘Grace’ invites her Joni-esque vocal (“Look out for the grace that’s woven in the stories of our mystery”), complemented by Malcolm’s angular trumpet and Fisher’s powerful drumming. Continuing Nash’s penchant for interlocking chord structures, ‘Dreamer’ references the cyclic patterns of the late, great John Taylor, and ‘Lokma’ chimes to Seminar Ford’s bright guitar riffs and improv. Finally, the mellow auras of ‘Little Light’ lead to rocky ‘Inishbofin’, inspired by a turbulent boat trip to this western Irish island and portrayed through digital pulses, wave-slamming percussion, and even a hint of folksong.
“With its improvisational elements, categorizing Atlas’s music as ‘jazz’ is natural”, suggests Nash, “but I view it with a wider sensibility. That’s really important to me, as is writing for the listener, serving a greater purpose than just satisfying my own musical endeavours. Much of this music is written for special people in my life, and as a response to personal events. The sound arrived with the band, and I greatly value how it continues to evolve without me consciously controlling that. Playing with these guys, who I’ve met while living in different cities – Bristol, London, Cardiff, Birmingham – well… it feels like a kind of musical biography!”
"There is a strong sense of Nash's gently assertive presence... It is the clarity of this creative 'voice' that unifies the project and marks her out as one to watch, both as composer and musician."
★★★★ Jazzwise Magazine
"Bold melodic gestures, inventive arrangements... Underpinnnd by an elegant assurance that makes this a fine debut release for the band."
★★★★ BBC Music Magazine
"There’s a beauty to this recording that goes beyond any pigeon-holes of musical styles... A delightfully engaging journey that well and truly showcases Nash’s talents and marks her out as one of freshest creative talents in the UK at this present time."
★★★★★ UK Vibe
"An impressive début from Nash that highlights both her playing and composing skills. Her command of a variety of acoustic and electric keyboards is impressive throughout."
★★★★ The Jazz Mann
"As beautiful as its artwork... An elegant blend of modal jazz, soul jazz, electronica and 1970s fusion with an occasional dash of rock."
All About Jazz
"Well executed album."
Bebop Spoken Here
"An exciting cross-pollination of music."
Sandy Brown Jazz
"The band are tight and powerful throughout... Exciting, muscular contemporary fusion."
"Nash’s complex musical vocabulary strikes a pleasing balance between new electronica, elements of 70s soul-jazz, fusion, rock and more contemporary jazz idioms"
“Exciting, muscular contemporary fusion.”
Sussex Jazz Magazine
Tough to pick a favorite track here. This is a great band who obviously have many hours together under their belts. The group takes metric modulation and polyrhythmic ensemble playing to a level I have not heard before in jazz. Outstanding! duane_harvey