Since 2007 the quartet has consisted of Jonathan Bratoëff on guitar and compositions, Tom Mason on bass, Mark Hanslip on sax and James Maddren on drums. Each musician brings with him great musical variety and adaptability to a band that looks for a truly contemporary sound with a strong emphasis on melody and energy while paying great attention to textures and sounds as well as forms and structures. It results in a music swaying between architecturally quite complex compositions to more free and open improvisations. The Jonathan Bratoëff Quartet draws influences from many sides of the jazz world, from Coltrane to Ornette Coleman to Jason Moran via the New York downtown scene and with powerful melodies, energetic and vibrant rhythms, rich colorful textures and a mixture of the jazz tradition blended with other musical idioms such as African, Rock and Latin music the listener experiences an honest sound that pushes boundaries and evokes raw emotions.
The album entitled Mindscapes was recorded in 2009 and was well received by the critics (4 stars Guardian, the Jazzman, read the reviews).
Since 2010 the band is now joined by singer Marcina Arnold and bassist Karl Rasheed-Abel and has recorded a new album entitled Words of My Father soon to be released in September 2013, following the same artistic direction as the previous ones but with maybe a more folky, bluesy angle.
It is entitled “Words of my father” since most lyrics are written by his dad, a scottish folk artist in his own right. The challenge was for acclaimed Jazz guitarist and composer Bratoëff with already 5 albums under his belt to use those texts has an inspiration for his own contemporary jazz writing. It was as well an occasion for him to give out a meaningful angle to his music with lyrics which are politically charged or simply meditations or views on universal topics, something you don’t necessary have in purely instrumental music.
The result is mesmerising, with vibrant melodies, urban grooves, sophisticated harmony and meaningful lyrics there is definite uniqueness to this project and it has already attracted a dedicated following despite it’s early stage. Imagine a cross between Bob Dylan, John Coltrane, Billie Holliday, Bjork and Steve Coleman!!
A Member of the audience has described the music has “Indie Jazz”, indeed that could be a fair description of what Jonathan Bratoëff’s “Words of my father is about.