Jimi Tenor: Beyond The Stars
Kitty Yo

With Beyond The Stars, Jimi Tenor shows a stronger affinity for Gil Evans than he does any former Warp label-mates. Listening to its richly orchestrated big band sound, one more easily pictures Tenor conducting his group at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal rather than Sonar. But the album's sound isn't a huge surprise as his fifth and final Warp album Out Of Nowhere already showed him pursuing this flamboyant direction. On the new album's thirteen tracks, Tenor showcases deft arranging skills and weaves solos into a track's compositional design in a way that would make Ellington proud. Tenor also proves himself stylistically adept as the pieces run the gamut from a declamatory, Latin-flavoured barn burner titled “Moon Goddess” to the laconic soul of “Going for the Gold” and the grungy funk of “Tsunami”; on the mellower tip are the dreamy oasis “Mr. French” and the aptly titled “Sirens of Salo.” Tenor's serviceable vocals appear on a number of tracks (the romantic “Beyond The Stars,” for instance) and he even adds a gravelly voice-over (reminiscent of Barry Adamson or Robbie Robertson) to the spicy soul-jazz groove of “Barcelona Sunrise.” The singular misstep is “Asteroid Belt,” a dissonant mood piece of chaotic free blowing, that may be admirably adventurous but is less satisfying than the other pieces. While it may not have obvious appeal to electronic music aficionados, there's no denying Beyond The Stars' imaginative and exuberant qualities.

October 2004