Not to be confused with the American band, or the Arctic carnivore, Polar Bear are back with their sixth album. Once again delving into the riches of double-saxophone-fueled jazz, Same As You is a double LP with outside ideas and at the same time appealing sounds. British avant-garde made available to the masses!
Vinyl Double LP £17.48 BAY98V
Ltd gatefold 2LP + CD on The Leaf Label.
CD £10.49 BAY98CD
CD on The Leaf Label.
Must admit I've never been that familiar with Polar Bear other than they are one of the country's most pre-eminent exponents of modern avant-jazz or something. Plus the drummer has an afro the size of which makes grown bald men weep with bitter envy and has played in many great UK jazz fusion units such as Fulborn Teversham and Melt Yourself Down among others. He's an in demand chap indeed, one of the true cool dudes.
This sixth (count 'em) offering proceeds with a spiritual mantra then softly ambles into soft reflective free jazz full of cool percussive thrills and tropical sounds, a moody sax (well, there's actually a pair trading compliments and affection!) and other classic jazz orchestra ephemera. Unlike some of the madder Scandinavian stuff I've been exposed to recently it doesn't over-indulgence, get too raucous or muso-clever but is in fact incredibly beautiful and meditative. Rather tropical and very sexy too. Beach jazz with the finest cocktails.
Spilling with laid-back tumbling poly-rhythms, a keen sense of nature and space, unusual ambient diversions and an undeniably accomplished skill at taking jazz into more accessible but no less thrilling territories, this is what I'd term as paradise jazz for all it's soft acoustic resonance and playfulness. I didn't expect to enjoy it half as much as I did but 'Same as You' is a subtle delight infused with implicit funk, subtle electronic embellishments and an irresistible balmy atmosphere. Only seven tracks long. Genuinely sad by its conclusion.
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