Nat Birchall - World Without Form
- Stewart Smith
- 17 January 2013
Northern English saxophonist influenced by Thembi-era Pharoah Sanders
(Sound Soul and Spirit)
With track titles like ‘Divine Harmony’ and ‘Speak To Us Of Love’, and his deployment of both tenor and soprano horns, Northern English saxophonist Nat Birchall makes no secret of his love of John Coltrane. While some of 'Trane’s disciples have focused on the wilder aspects of his playing, others have explored the more meditative side of his deeply spiritual quest. The shimmering piano, African shakers and soulful tenor of the title track create a sense of cosmic bliss reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders circa Thembi. Corey Mwamba’s vibraphone brings a gorgeous resonance to proceedings, while the great drummer Paul Hession rolls it all along with delicate snare hits and rumbling toms. Meditative does not necessarily mean mellow, however, and on certain tracks, Birchhall doubles the rhythm section to add urgency and weight. This is particularly effective on ‘Return To Ithica’, where Birchall guides his Moorish-Spanish soprano over a driving groove.