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Downtown Music Gallery, NEWSLETTER - March 20th, 2015  

original review is here amongst other reviews that week

PHIL GIBBS/MARK LANGFORD/PAUL ANSTEY/BOB HELSON - Fringe Music (FreeTone Records 001; UK) Featuring Mark Langford on tenor sax & bass clarinet, Phil Gibbs on electric guitar, Paul Anstey on double bass and Bob Helson on drums. This came in the mail last month from my pal Phil Gibbs, one of Paul Dunmall's most consistent collaborators. Aside from the prolific Mr. Gibbs, I hadn't heard of any of the other three members of this UK quartet. This disc was recorded at a studio in Bristol in October and December of 2013. I haven't reviewed this disc until now since I wanted to spend some time with it, deciding what makes it unique. Like Mr. Dunmall, Phil Gibbs also seems to attract like-minded improvisers. Right from the gitgo, there is a tight, sprawling, integrated weaving of lines. Mr. Gibbs sounds relaxed as he plays a series of quick yet calm waves with that swell older jazz guitar tone. When Tenor man, Langford comes in, he also seems to be riding the waves created by the tight yet slippery rhythm team. This fine quartet sounds like they have been playing together for a long while since they seem to move in tight directions as one unit. By the third piece, the quartet heats up and soars powerfully together. The quartet moves very organically through both more restrained and more intense sections but remains always connected. I tried to figure out if this quartet did anything that made them sound British in any way but there is no way I could determine that. This is strong, spirited improvising nonetheless. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Reviews of Fringe Music - FTR001

Morning Star, Album Reviews: 21st February 2015

original review is here

Fringe Music by Mark Langford, Phil Gibbs, Paul Anstey & Bob Helson (Freetone Records)


Bristol’s record of producing interesting and innovative music draws much from the long-established improv scene, with the city’s Fringe Cafe at its heart.

Mark Langford, Phil Gibbs, Paul Anstey and Bob Helson, the venue’s core band, have come up with this offering and it shows that open, democratic, and collective bands can scale heights rarely achieved by more structured ensembles.

The quartet, technically excellent, paint from a broad palette which makes for a vibrant, accessible atmosphere which eschews free-jazz cliches.

The line-up of sax, guitar, bass and drums plays an equal part in setting the course of the music.

Grooves do occur but not in a format you’d expect and that’s what makes Fringe Music so original and exciting.

It shows just how much collective improvisation can achieve.

Hugh Kirkbride