Nat Birchall - Guiding Spirit (3 stars)

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Nat Birchall - Guiding Spirit

(Gondwana)

Nat Birchall is a saxophonist from the Manchester area, deeply in thrall to the example of John Coltrane, and especially Coltrane’s strongly modal 60s music. Even his tune titles carry a distinctly Trane echo, but it would be wrong to mark Birchall down as just another Coltrane imitator. He clearly has his own personal engagement with his musical and spiritual mentor; expressing it through economy and simplicity rather than blustering attack.

His soulful tenor and soprano probe at the music in thoughtful fashion, supported by Adam Fairhall’s McCoy Tyner-inspired piano and a reliable rhythm section. Trumpeter Matthew Halsall features, and Rachel Gladwin’s kora and harp add an unusual colouration to two tracks. A strong follow up to last year’s well-received Akhenaten, Burchill merits checking out if late Trane or the more restrained side of Pharaoh Sanders is your thing.

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