…there is a mix of musical genres here and it is to Mansfield’s enormous credit that his compositions create a genre of their own…
Resonant Postcards: RP001
Jonny Mansfield: vibraphone; Dominic Ingham: violin; Midori Jaeger: ‘cello; Will Sach: bass; James Maddren: drums
Recorded July 2022 by Alex Bonney at Sands Film Studios, London
Having made a splash with Elfet in 2019. Mansfield turns his attention to a very different sound. Here the compositions have the richness of a chamber quartet but the unbridled passion of jazz, particularly through Maddren’s compelling drumming.
In the opening track, the strings introduce a simple harmony that ushers in the vibraphone. Across this, the drums feel as if they are seeking the spaces in which to pop up and, finding nothing obvious, they force their own ideas to shape the music and mark a pulse to which the tune bends.
Each instrument is enveloped in settings that bring out the richness of its sound and each player is given the freedom to explore these settings beyond the written notes. Some of the melodies are simple enough to immediately capture the attention, like half remembered folk tunes, but always there is a tension with rhythms that are complex and a little disorienting.
While the album’s title hints at moving through a light medium, the title track is prefixed with the word ‘(Organise)’. It is this, together with titles such as ‘Ripples’, track 1, ‘Waves’, track 3, and ‘Flicker’, track 4, which point towards an underlying Physics of the music.
Across the pieces, the vibraphone flows and glistens in waves, ripples, flickers as it interprets and frames the musical setting of each piece. Not surprisingly, perhaps, there was a Scientific impetus to creating the music here, with Mansfield studying a degree in Psychology.
This led to a desire to ‘explore my physical surroundings…[and] the lines between introspection and extrospection became blurred…’. In addition, from the music of this set, you also sense a blurring and refocussing of the self and the quartet for each the players as they introduce their own voices and then fade into the accompaniment of their bandmates.
As I said, there is a mix of musical genres here and it is to Mansfield’s enormous credit that his compositions create a genre of their own, and the musicians that this genre has the intelligence of chamber music and the dynamism of jazz.