Album: Water Speckled Midnight by Q3

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Water Speckled Midnight is quite simply a delicious collection of noir jazz executed by a seasoned quartet of tasteful professionals. Subdued, delicate, calculated, flowing, and really rather elegant.

A jazz and jazz fusion quartet of the highest caliber, Q3 are based in Cambridge and are composed of Kevin Flanagan on tenor saxophone, Tiago Coimbra on the bass, Martin Hallmark on the piano, and Oscar Reynolds on the drums. The music on Water Speckled Midnight is rich an dense, as expected from an album of instrumental jazz fusion. What Water Speckled Midnight is not, is inaccessible, as in spite of the density, the music is populated by the sweetly effervescent and warm timbres of the classic quartet instrument, as well as by the delicacy of the solos and beats, and the sufficient roundedness of the roomy production.

Made up of 10 compositions and clocking in at one minute short of a full hour, Water Speckled Midnight is a lengthy and winding listen that is never boring. Perhaps because it is not predictable. The pieces on Water Speckled Midnight never miss a chance for a harmonic twist or a tasty solo right around every bend. Taking pieces such as ‘Emerald Eyes’ with its gargantuan length and wealth of solos, on the bass and sax, as an example to the lushness of the music on the record seems to be a good idea. Often, the straightforward beats courtesy of Reynolds are a driving force that drives the music forward into the realms of the usual and easy to follow before, just as often, the beats break into rhythmically menacing jazz passages, with ‘Nomads’ being a perfect example of the quartet’s more outlandish compositional abilities. Be it melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic.

The title piece is a delightfully bustling piece of unadulterated jazz. Blaring saxophone lines, snaking piano licks and a rhythm section that’s being phenomenally tight, ‘Water Speckled Midnight’ is an endlessly smooth piece of music with an unforgettable, quirky motif. ‘Rondo di Girulata’ is one of the record’s most engaging and entertaining pieces. With its quick pace and straight-forward fusion vibe with tangible motifs and phrases, it is perhaps the album’s least experimental cut, and one of the finest. ‘Turnaround Time’ is a sweet and sensible piece, again with a quicker tempo. Revolving around the succinct and balanced solos from Flanagan and Coimbra, this might be the right time to raise the hat for the fantastic bass solos that Tiago Coimbra brings on numerous cuts on the album. Truly one of Britain’s more talented jazz electric bassists.

Being the 3rd album since their inception in 2013, the quartet surely take all the time they need to deliver their music. Founded by Martin Hallmark, the music is mostly written by veteran saxophonist Flanagan who has been active in the UK jazz scene since the 80s, having since performed with acts such as Pink Floyd and Portishead. Taking their time to deliver surely gives each album an exceptional gravitas, and contemplating the exquisite level of detail and musicianship on Water Speckled Midnight, this gravitas certainly is earned. A sublime listen from start to finish.

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