Zoe Rahman: Colour of Sound review – always intricate and surprising

Fronting a superb cross-generational band on a set of original compositions of all moods and styles, the British pianist surprises at every turn

Since her arrival two decades back, piano prodigy Zoe Rahman has brought diverse musical palettes to British jazz, be they from her classical background, the Punjabi heritage she explored on 2008’s Where Rivers Meet, or the mainstream ballads she interpreted as a duo with Courtney Pine.

Here she fronts an eight-piece band on an arresting set of her own compositions that again defies easy categorisation. It’s underpinned by her regular rhythm section of bassist Alec Dankworth and drummer Gene Calderazzo (the latter eschewing the noisy approach of many North American counterparts), with sibling synastry from her brother Idris on sax and clarinet. Its moods are varied but characteristically bright. Opener Dance of Time marries a jaunty tune with an exhilarating flute solo by Rowland Sutherland, whereas Little Ones is wistful and Sweet Jasmine, a tribute to her daughter, joyous, combining Rahman’s flowing piano with the funky melodicism of guest trumpeter Byron Wallen. The lengthy piano solo that opens Roots unfolds from a bluesy opening to celestial keyboard ripples and percussive chord sequences reminiscent of McCoy Tyner (an abiding influence).

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