A review of ‘Invisible World’ by The Blow-up.

The Blow-up
I played this CD while a friend was visiting and he said ‘wow’. Another friend I merely showed it to and he also said ‘wow’. Underneath the first impressions I think there’s another important quality to this album, something that is so often lacking in the music we hear on the radio and see on television: maturity.

Ten of the twelve tracks here are instrumentals by jazz piano player Tom Unwin. Tom’s music is in the mould of 1960s/70s ‘post-bop’ and his playing influences include Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and especially Bill Evans, all piano players who worked with trumpeter and bandleader Miles Davis and went on to form their own groups.

Tom’s group consists of himself on keys, Marcus Vergette (bass) and Gary Evans (drums), with less extensive contributions from Stig Olsen (reeds), Will Bower (percussion) and Noelle Rollings (vocals). The group takes its name from the 1966 film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, for which Herbie Hancock recorded the soundtrack.

I’ve known Tom since the year dot. I’ve heard him do stuff like this before but only now does there exist a fully-realized, well-recorded project consisting of great musicians playing great music. No one’s showing off. No one’s selling out. Once more, it’s tempting the use the word ‘maturity’.

Stig’s sax helps the album state its case – after the piano prelude ‘Tut Tut’ – on the early tracks. Bassist Marcus weighs in with a colourful intro on ‘Funny Face’. Tom stamps his individuality on Bob James’ ‘Angela (theme from Taxi)’, which has virtually no harmony, just the familiar melody played on electric piano and backed up by drums and percussion. Another nod towards the album’s ‘soundtrack’ influence.

Later, the jazz waltz ‘Blue Sunflowers’ ebbs and flows towards a triumphant repetition of its 3-chord tag, right before the album’s title track provides a sublime climax to the piece.

The three remaining tunes form almost an epilogue. There’s a return of the electric piano, along with some energized jazz-rock drumming from Gary on ‘Big Sur’, while the Jarrettesque ‘Mercurius’ echoes the title track of the album with its shimmering stillness.

I heard that recently the band played at a festival with a projector showing moving images behind them. That’s one way of becoming invisible…