Led Bib hit Scotland for a couple of small venue gigs this month on the back of their latest studio CD, Sensible Shoes, newly released on a new (American) label, Steven Feigenbaum’s Cuneiform Records. The London-based quartet has been attracting a lot of attention over the past eighteen months or so for their energised and iconoclastic approach to contemporary jazz.
The band have predictably outraged the more conservative jazz lovers hooked into swing and idiomatic purity. Their pulling together of free jazz, rock, punk and anything else that seems to fit in the moment has injected a burst of colour and irreverent exuberance into the jazz scene, and if they share some common ground with the likes of Acoustic Ladyland or Polar Bear, they don’t really feel part of the current scene, according to drummer Mark Holub.
‘We all met up at Middlesex University, so we were a bit separate even then, because none of us went to the Royal Academy or the Guildhall. I think as time has gone by we’ve become even more isolated from the jazz community as a group, but in a good way in that people probably aren’t that bothered about what we’re doing. Saying that, though, the scene is much more open now than it was five years ago when we started.’
Holub is joined in the group by alto saxophonists Chris Williams and Pete Grogan, keyboard player Toby McLaren and bassist Liran Donin. The band are known for the collective energy and drive of their live shows, but the new disc reveals a broader picture of where they are taking their music.
‘It’s a coming of age album for us,’ Holub says. ‘It’s not overly intellectual or conceived. On the earlier records, we thought more about how each improvisation might go, but in this record we wanted to go into it really freely, like we do live. This record is our natural sound, embracing all our ideas and influences, with as little weight of tradition as possible.’
The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, Sun 7 Jun; Stereo, Glasgow, Mon 8 Jun