This is an album not to be missed from a young musician who is destined to be a major voice in the music both as an instrumentalist and composer.

ACT 9973-2

Emma Rawicz (tenor saxophone, flute, bass clarinet); Ivo Neame (piano); Ant Law (guitar); Conor Chaplin (upright & electric bass); Asaf Sirkis (drums, vocals); Immy Churchill (vocals)

Recorded June 2022

Having been wholeheartedly impressed by Rawicz’s debut album Incantation, there were high expectations for the follow up. Now signed to the ACT imprint, the saxophonist certainly does not disappoint with an album that builds on the strengths of the earlier recording and displays a rapid development that is astonishing.

Everything about Chroma is confident and assured. The compositions are solidly constructed and there is a vibrancy in the delivery that ensures that not only is Rawicz able to grab the attention but makes sure that once she has it is not allowed to waver.

The opening ‘Phlox’ is a strong and touch composition that seems to come at you from all angles. Great theme statement, powerful bass line from Chaplin’s electric bass, wonderful deployment of the bass clarinet, and to cap it all a superb tenor and guitar dialogue between Rawicz and Ant Law.

The leader’s tenor sax has a full sound and edge and bite that is absolutely stunning when pitted against the guitar, and the lines that the two weave at speed are spellbinding.

Rawicz’s imaginative use of the voices at her disposal can also be heard on ‘Rangwali’ with the blending of flute, tenor and bass clarinet and the voice of Immy Churchill. A rich and vibrant sound palette that after the catchy theme has Rawicz launching into perhaps her most imaginative solo of the set.

Sweeping across the registers of her tenor saxophone, she does so with a cohesiveness and a logical narrative before leaving it open for pianist Ivo Neame to pick up in his equally compelling outing.

The pianist gets a moment or so to himself with the solo introduction to ‘Viridian’ before Immy Churchill once again enthralls with her wordless vocals. Conor Chaplin takes a wonderfully expressive solo on double bass and again as if a tag team, this is picked and developed by Ant Law in his solo.

Emma gets the final say in another solo that encompasses the full range of the instrument, and as is her wont does so without resorting to jarring intervallic leaps but seems to glide effortlessly across the tenor’s range.

If the saxophonist comes out with a hard-hitting number for the opener, then she closes in similar vein. ‘Falu’ bursts into life from the opening notes and provides a secure platform for some great group dynamics and another outstanding solo from Rawicz.

In a set that relies on texture and dynamics, Emma Rawicz brings many different aspects to bear on the music. Some may find the music inspires visual images with the light and shade in the compositions, and as a synthesite who through a second sensory pathway simultaneously experiences music as colours the saxophonist has captured this in an incredibly sensitive and intuitive manner in her writing and in a naming composition after lesser known colours.

This is an album not to be missed from a young musician who is destined to be a major voice in the music both as an instrumentalist and composer.