Track of the Month: Portico Quartet – City of Glass

Portico Quartet's third self-titled album

Let’s face it, it hasn’t been Jazz’s finest hour for quite a while. Apart from a few legends still doing their thing, the scene in the past couple of decades has been quite devoid from fresh talent and more so from fresh ideas. But that all changed in recent times when the likes of Jaga Jazzist, Floating Points, Flying Lotus and Henrik Schwarz found a spark that has long been missing from the versatile genre, electronic fusion.

Back in the 70s, the likes of George Duke and Frank Zappa were experimenting with Jazz like there was no tomorrow. And the once fundamentally stringent multi-faceted idiomatic genre, became a playground for all kinds of imports from across the globe. All of a sudden, Jazz became a melting pot of everything from African tabla solos to ostinato time signatures (exemplified in Herbie Hancock‘s Mwandishi).The period saw one of Jazz’s biggest evolution to date, the abandoning of the swing beat in favor of the backbeat.

Live at Rough Trade East (31st Jan 2012)

Flash forward to 2012, and it seems like jazz is everywhere again. Youngsters are going to record stores and browsing hundreds of fusion movement vinyls, previously a rarity, now a common sight. And in that vein, it wasn’t surprising that a day after Portico Quartet released their third album, a 45 minute appearance at Rough Trade East on Brick Lane was a full house affair.

But to label any track on that album as jazz or jazz fusion would be nothing short of misleading. It is much more than that, but somehow simplified to sound much less. A quirky dubstep bassline meets an ineffably well structured 2 step beat, suddenly morphing into an ambient reverb-atious landscape with a cello propagating you through it all like a ripple that never fades.

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