I can’t imagine a ‘best of’ list for this year that won’t be including this beautifully crafted album.

Manushi Records: MANUCD007

Zoe Rahman: piano; Alec Dankworth: double bass; Gene Calderazzo: drums; Idris Rahman: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, clarinet; Rowland Sutherland: flute, alto flute; Alex Ridout: trumpet, flugelhorn; Byron Wallen: trumpet; Rosie Turton: trombone

Recorded by Ronan Phelan and Michele Catri at Master Chord Studios.

Zoe Rahman is a musician for whom the clumsy phrase ‘world music’ is apt. But what is striking is that the music is from her world, her experiences, and the melding musical genres, traditions, and styles in which she has steeped herself.

The music draws on complicated rhythmic patterns. On the opener, ‘Dance of time’, a first listen feels like a bop groove but, on repeated listens, has a parallel pattern from, say, South African township jive, and the twin rhythmic pattern creates a stimulating and very listenable, and danceable, tension.

The rhythmic complexity is given unity by Rahman’s piano and Sutherland’s soaring flute solo. Given the ways in which the music shimmers, the role of the rhythm section is much less to point out the beat in each piece than to find the changes in tempo and provide punctuation to the musical phrases.

This needs bass and drum playing that it as melodic as it is rhythmic and, in Dankworth and Calderazzo, she has two experts in this type of playing.

On the ensemble pieces, such as ‘For love’ and ‘Unity’, the compositions draw richly on the sound available from septet and sextet. Again, Rahman’s piano provides the axis around which the music rotates, shifting rhythms with well-timed changes in left hand chords and using right hand phrases to suggest and respond to the soloists.

Across the pieces, Rahman’s solos also draw out hidden corners of the compositions with crystalline brilliance. Even within phrases, as on ‘Peace Garden’, the tempo subtly changes and undulates between different rhythmic patterns.

It takes a special group of musicians to keep up with the ideas in the tunes and she has the perfect balance in this band.

While the opening set of tunes see Rahman’s compositions continuing to push in the directions of her recent work, the tranquil ‘Little ones’ with Idris Rahman’s clarinet seems to hark back to the some of her earlier recordings and take a tune that has the simplicity of a folk song and burnish it until in shines with hope and optimism.

I can’t imagine a ‘best of’ list for this year that won’t be including this beautifully crafted album.