Review: Obelisk – Graham Costello’s STRATA

(Credit: Peter J Stevenson)

The future of Scottish jazz is alive and hungry with Graham Costello’s STRATA debut album Obelisk  bursting at the seams with energy and musicality.

Essentially a six-piece jazz group, led by Graham Costello on the drums, the band layer minimalist compositions with progressive rock and experimental jazz making for a breathtaking sound.

Formed out of the Glasgow jazz scene; the group is littered with talent with Fergus McCreadie (piano), Harry Weir (tenor sax), Liam Shortall (trombone), Joe Williamson (guitar) and Mark Hendry (bass) making up the band.

The album’s title track and opener is a gateway into the originality of what the album presents. Musicality of the highest order, combined with stunning individual elements from each of the musicians, giving the album a dynamism and creativity that is raw and enthusiastic.

Harry Weir’s solo on Stoic is immense along with Liam Shortall’s playing on the track Ocelot. Costello’s drumming paired up with the electric playing of Fergus McCreadie and the deep and warming bass tones of Mark Hendry supply the album with an attack, and at some points a deeply comforting sound, that the minimalist style perfectly syncs up with.

Every musician in the band is a rising star in their field, with Fergus McCreadie a finalist on this years BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year and Liam Shortall a member of jazz and fusion group Fat Suit. Joe Williamson was this year’s Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year, Mark Hendry was asked to compose two pieces for a 22 piece orchestra at the 2018 EJBF and finally, Harry Weir is a powerhouse on saxophone.

Graham Costello’s creativity in composition shines through each track, with his drumming style echoing the likes of Moses Boyd and Femi Koleoso of the London new wave jazz scene. Full of life, daring and impulsive.

Track highlights include the riveting 96 that leads into the even more powerful Jade, and the piano-driven Sapphire allowing Fergus McCreadie to show off his capabilities,

STRATA will be playing in touring the album in February, visiting Edinburgh on February 8th, then Stirling, Glasgow, Dumfries, and Aberdeen. Be sure to check them out it will not be one to miss.

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By Iain Leggat 

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