The Golden Age of Steam - Raspberry Tongue (3 stars)

The Golden Age of Steam - Raspberry Tongue

(Babel Records)

Although the line-up of saxophone, Hammond organ and drums suggests the classic soul jazz units of the late ’50s and ’60s, The Golden Age of Steam is a very different beast. Saxophonist and clarinettist James Allsopp and drummer Tim Giles have already made their mark at the more experimental end of the current UK jazz spectrum with their band Fraud, and they are joined here by Kit Downes, formerly of Empirical, on the Hammond.

What ensues is a no-holds-barred mix of raw, free, jazz-inspired blowing with abstracted but atmospheric soundscapes, all built around Allsopp’s enigmatically-titled compositions. There is a bit of a hit-and-miss feel to it overall, but when they hit their stride the trio create powerful and absorbing music that owes little to jazz conventions but much to jazz’s informing sense of creative freedom.

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