Phil Robson - guitar
Julian Siegel - tenor and soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
Thaddeus Kelly - bass
Gene Calderazzo - drums
Recorded by Chris Lewis and Ali Ward
at the Vortex Jazz Club, Dalston, London
September 25th and 26th 2018
Mixed by Chris Lewis Julian Siegel and Phil Robson
Mastered by Chris Lewis
Produced by Chris Lewis, Phil Robson and Julian Siegel
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
Photography - Monika S Jakubowska, Steven Cropper
Album artwork - Monika S Jakubowska
released May 17, 2019
ABOUT THE ALBUM
With an authority developed over two decades on the circuit, Partisans are proud to unleash their first live album, Nit De Nit, recorded at London’s Vortex Club. Across this rezzed-up hour-plus of back-catalogue reinventions and new delights, electric guitarist Phil Robson, saxophonist Julian Siegel, electric bassist Thaddeus Kelly and drummer Gene Calderazzo command the stage with inimitable joie de vivre.
As writers and co-leaders, Robson and Siegel had long thought of releasing a live account of their dynamic shows: “We’ve played many memorable gigs over the years and wanted to capture that energy, in the great tradition of jazz recording.” And though Partisans’ music is carefully conceived, the emphasis is on collective improvisation, explains Phil: “There’s something particular about the way this band gets its material together – we need to play live to get a glimpse of how it’s going to be. Our writing simply sets it in motion, with nothing set in stone, because everyone brings so much personality to it.”
There’s a sense of occasion, nowadays, when they gig in the UK, especially after Robson’s relocation to New York; and the Vortex holds special relevance for Partisans. “The band got its break at the old Vortex (in Stoke Newington) which, in the mid-1990s, was like our local club”, says Siegel. “Back then, most venues were pretty straight-ahead, but that was such a melting pot.” Their sound has evolved significantly from more acoustic origins – inspired along the way by the likes of Bill Frisell, John Scofield and Dave Holland’s Extensions band – into the rock-heavy powerhouse it is today.
A quotation from Charlie Parker’s ‘Klact-oveeseds-tene’ preludes ‘Max’ (from Partisans’ album of the same name), an homage to Max Roach, whose audacious rhythms grace the original Parker recording. As Calderazzo replicates his intricacy (four bars of five, then four of three), the band launch into their own heady bebop celebration, Siegel and Robson unifying its perky riffs. Sidewalk-grooving ‘That’s Not His Bag’ (after pandemonium boarding a flight) hints at Steely Dan; and ‘Nit De Nit’ (hear that call-and-answer) suggests Parker again, only to snap into impressively-synced frenzy and fast swing.
Siegel’s shamelessly brash blues arrangement of ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’, from a classic Bowie songwriting era, indicates a massive Miles influence. A groundhog’s punctual daily arrival in Robson’s New Jersey garden is behind ‘3:15 (On the Dot)’, Siegel’s bass clarinet emphasising tentative footfall around lush guitar chords and improvisational freedom. Punky ‘The Overthink’ is titled following an official’s reassurance to Siegel in boarding the right train: “Don’t overthink it”, while the guitar hues of ‘Eg’ (Egberto Gismonti) provide a Brazilian flavor. Swaggering mash-up ‘Pork Scratching’ features fine percussive detail and bass-pedal electronics before the set closes to koto-like ‘Last Chance’… with a ferocious sting in the tail.
“The band’s early days seem like a lifetime ago!”, admits Robson. “But, alongside being old friends, it’s the exceptional energy which keeps us invigorated – we have such a great time.” Partisans’ superb live recording suggests there’s no stopping them.
"Turbo-charged, feral yet playful post-bop... Nit de Nit documents Partisans' strong signature and versatile palette of undiluted jazz and rock sub-genre fascinations at its peak."
★★★★ Jazzwise Magazine
"It seems that over the course of nearly a quarter of a century, Partisans have lost none of their magic, indeed judging by this album, the magic seems to have burgeoned. This is compelling music, and some of the very best to be heard anywhere on the planet."
★★★★ All About Jazz
“Nit De Nit” reveals Partisans to still be one of the UK’s most exciting live bands, their music a fascinating and immensely enjoyable amalgam of power and intelligence."
★★★★ UK Vibe
"A very engaging, stimulating and varied work."
Bebop Spoken Here
"The playing is on point throughout and the whole is shot through with an irrepressible sense of fun; this release should re-state Partisans’ claim to be one of the most creative groups in UK jazz and act as a reminder of their endlessly forward-thinking vision."
"This is one of the best albums of the year to date: no doubt about it."
"Technically sensational, committed and compelling. This album shows how much substance the quartet has amassed over the years... A closer look at it is definitely worthwhile."
"Refreshing, very well written, put together and played hooky music from first class musicians."
"Partisans delight in expanding every predictable jazz horizon with rock escapades, experimental sounds and yes, even pop finesse."
You might have already noticed that I'm the target of some strange attraction originating from big band music. Yes, seriously... but not from any kind of... well, it must be complex, polyphonic, boldly arranged - and a little bit dissonant at times, if possible. Ideally, it should be without improvisations, but that's a very strong condition that's rarely met, since big band music typically is a sub-genre of jazz. So, long story short - "The Gareth Lockrane Big Band" is an ideal match - besides featuring lush wind arrangements that really floor me, the interspersed solos on this album even manage to be an enrichment to the tracks, rather than a plague I'm hoping to go by soon. Sven B. Schreiber