The Blessing, All Is Yes

Nick Southall

By Nick Southall

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

As if the identikit suits weren't anonymous enough, Bristolian jazz-riffers the Blessing have also taken to wearing paper bags over their heads for press shots. Maybe they're telling us “it's all about the music, man”? They could be right; boasting a rhythm section that's done time with both Portishead and Roni Size and influences that include “North African cuisine,” Morphine (the band rather than the painkiller) and Elvis Costello, the Blessing play jazz, dude, but not as we (used to) know it. Unless you came across Mahavishnu Orchestra before you did Dave Brubeck.

Portishead associates’ wildly eccentric jazz-not-jazz odyssey.

Walking a path similar to the more electrified members of London's F-ire Collective, most obviously Acoustic Ladyland, All Is Yes is far from the politely pretentious image some might have of jazz clubs; the Blessing rock a damn site more than a lot of supposedly ‘rock'bands do, they just do it with a trumpet and a saxophone rather than a guitar.

Just get a load of “Cake Hole,” where spiralling horns, accelerating drums and grinding electric bass power an otherwise simple tune to a frenetic climax, while things get a little drum ‘n'bass on "Thermos." Album centrepiece “Loubia” reaches a restrained ecclesiastical apex after several minutes of hypnotically weaving percussion and subdued, Miles-esque soloing; awesome.

The Blessing may not quite push the genre-mashing envelope as hard as some contemporaries, but tune-for-tune All Is Yes stands up alongside any modern, kinetic jazz/rock/fusion/thing album you care to name and demands your attention by grooving hard. Thoroughly recommended.