Slick production, funky grooves and tasty solos: whilst these things may not be commonly associated with student bands, all can be found in plentiful supply on SNARP’s debut EP, All In.
Consisting of current and ex-Oxford students, SNARP demonstrate the prodigious talent that can be found within Oxford’s jazz scene, which venues such as The Wheatsheaf and The Mad Hatter continue to foster through weekly jazz nights.
The three-track EP, described as ‘groovy, post-bop jazz’, is not restricted to traditional jazz language, blending distorted guitars and electronic elements with soulful sax and trumpet (played by Josh Cottell and Mikey Ahearn); this is highlighted in the album’s credits, where Huw Cheston is credited with both ‘electric guitar’ and ‘musique concrete’.
The EP is a celebration of groove-based playing, with melodic, engaging solos played over an concrete foundation of post-bop beats, held together by Leonard Maassen on drums and Tom O’Connor on bass.
Particular highlights include the third track, ‘Dinghy’, beginning with a low-volume, groovy piano vamp, reminiscent of Herbie Hancock, then later featuring superb solos from O’Connor, as well as Joe Zacarolli on keys. The track has an irresistible, laid back, lazy groove to it, and is great close to the EP.
This EP is the first release from the recently formed JazzSoc Records, an independent record label affiliated with Oxford University Jazz Society. According to JazzSoc President Liam Gesoff, the focus of the society and the affiliated label is ‘the support, development, improvement and promotion of both the performance and the appreciation of jazz music in the University of Oxford.’
All In is an excellent debut from SNARP, and the fact that the album, playing, production and release, has been entirely student-led is testament to the calibre of jazz music that the University produces. This isn’t just a good student record, it is a genuinely impressive jazz record.
Listen to All In on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/6Utvb4lym3J2zRLpAkM8vq