Long time British jazzers will know Chris Bowden from a variety of guises, most recently as part of The Heritage Orchestra. Here he teams up with singer/songwriter Mike Gates on a project called Scorched Earth
If I were to say to you that this is an album of folk meets jazz with buddhist overtones, you would rightly be running for the exit. If you are on a plane you might even be weighing up whether to open that big door to nothingness, but wait. In fact, stop, and sit yourself down.
This is a brooding, dark, spacious, oddly engaging series of tracks that just get under your skin. I think it is the guitar that keeps you tethered and brings you in, while Chris Bowden’s sax work is as reliably interesting as ever.
The track that pushed all my new age buttons (these are not good buttons to be pressed), was ‘Sometimes Flowers Live Longer’. Now let me explain. Every week some well meaning hippy sends me their homemade CD celebrating their love for Buddha. Well, that’s nice I say but keep it to yourself my dear, dear fellow moonbeam. Scorched Earth somehow manages to cover potentially cringeworthy subjects (an elegy for the Dalai Lama for example) with a spare elegance reminiscent of Solid Air. A few skeptical listens and my quizzical eyebrow drooped and my head started to nod. I was in fact won over. Something that happens pretty rarely, too rarely.
This is quite a record. Give it a spin or two.