On the The NJE’s new album, AFLOAT (Sartorial Records 2017)



As the alien synth notes precede, an ominous bass gathers slowly.

Frenzied high hat and cymbal is gaining on us like a dog.

Terry Edward’s metal breaths underpin, this is The Near Jazz Experience

Starting. Afloat as we listen, is a different way to make song.


St. Leonard’s Suite speaks of ease and the musical trio combining

Knowing what to play and what’s absent is proof of the art within sound.

Madness’ Mark Bedford on bass, Simon Charterton chatting rhythms,

Tindersticks’ Terry,  readdressing the tune as its found.


Here then is the insistence in air as it is shaped into music,

As three men, each artful use echo and response to divide

The expected pulse from the heart that ebbs and flows with excitement

Just as the sea’s crest at Hastings re-establishes all at high tide.


Be-bop repeats. As if a voice has been calling, and swimming feet

Stamping as the musicians fall and lock into step. Seismic shifts

From the synth as The NJE make their statement: the musical trio

Is power and they will demonstrate in this set. Diamonds for Breakfast


Is hard, certainly as much as the coast that now frames them,

As the bass is blue noting in ways that could very well come

From Ray Brown, Charterton’s drums ‘Dejohnette,’ befriending

The horn’s warmth and succour. As Edwards’s spirals like Pepper

With a sprinkle or two of Rollins. Track three Songo begins

And the near jazz experience is embellished, with shades

Of Miles lost in Paris or a balmy night in Soho. Capri like sun

Streamed by sax that emphasis and a tumble of keys


Sends us songwards and seawards too on Afloat.

A  valedictory trumpet and a rubbering bass

Balance rhythm as piano and drums peak and dip

This is the sonorous as it sounds a kind of last post


Formed from drifting, as if the drowning man

Was still singing of the fading dream with sea lips.

Bongo Cut Ups speaks of Expresso bars from the fifties,

Urgent beats mark the passing of all that was felt,


Suddenly a bass wave threatens all before sampled voice

Screams of trouble; the ghost of Albert Ayler part peering

Behind these three players and the sturdier chords

They have dealt. St Mary’s Suite speaks of home,


Nostalgia in the breath now and longing as a twisting theme

And a party can be comfortably heard in background.

A dizzying trumpet run and a faithful bass still supporting, expertly

Fused now with drumming to make the NJE’s unique sound.

Voodo Child’s slow intone speaks of a ritual and

Of  darkness, so soon softly sweetened and anchored

A resonating light crests the eye. A lonely siren at dawn

No doubt riding the sea’s conversation and a three note bass riff


To guide us from the watering moon towards light.

Acoustic Parts 1&2 has been stood at the waiting shore to receive us;

What sound like rim shots and gurgle meet the wah wah like swirl

And state, of a melody pressed into the air of becoming


As the pleasures within this new record have equal assurance

To the listening soul as sought fate. There is strength in this sound

As the piece capers nimbly. Its arcing theme somehow filmic,

The man with the golden arm lurks nearby. Knife Edge threatens well,


With shades of Marc Sandman’s Morphine. As We Three Kings

Brings conclusion, its sway and vibe serve us well. By adapting the hymn

The prayer is formed wisely.  The Near Jazz Experience look to heaven

As the music they make leavens hell.


If music’s the sea, then here is the cruise that will save us.

The NJE spread wise counsel as all swimmers dare nature’s swell.



David Erdos 8/10/17


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