Polar Bear are a jazz quintet from England, who released their fourth album Peepers about a month ago.
They classify themselves as ‘post jazz’ and it shows. Their jazz doesn’t belong to the dry definition of post bop/cool/free jazz, but rather jumps between styles and mixing them all together.
Sebastien Rochford the drummer is actually the brain behind this band. Always a leader, passionate and vital, and brings to mind the monster drumming of Art Blakey, and Billy Cobham.
His drumming is the engine behind the music, while supplying a modest carpet, no fancy shit, for sax players duo Mark Lockheart and Pete Wareham.
You cannot say that the opening track Happy For You isn’t jazz. It’s a direct influence of the combo Mingus and Lee Morgan, but the deepest you’ll dive into this piece, you’ll find it’s much more suitable for an experimental or funk rock band. That’s the great thing about Peepers – It’s a classic jazz album for people who are afraid of jazz.
At first, I had some hard times with the albums. I didn’t manage to enjoy it and almost dropped it. But later on it finally hit me.
It also made sense why a label like The Leaf Label which I once declared to be the “ECM of electronic music”, will take this kind of an album.
The reason is that PB’s jazz is round, aesthetic, not aggressive and not really jazz. It’s actually the 2010 definition of post-modern, and that these definitions are useless, and that what Ornett Coleman called back in ’59 The Shape Of Jazz To Come is actually the changing of the guards now. Fifty years after Coleman made that statement, Polar Bear takes the torch.
Who knows, maybe in this fast world with bloggers and immediate information, Peepers IS the shape of jazz to come. A big and respectful label takes a jazz quintet from England and makes them the dearest of the alternative scene? Just add water, stir and serve.
Buy : Insound
Bonus : A Mixtape by Sebestien Rochford