Alto saxophonist Sam Gill may have just invented chronological schizophrenia. Gill’s conception for his Scattered quintet slices through time and space to combine the freedom and complexity of now with an almost urbane salon aesthetic that could be a century old. It’s rather like slightly unruly music intermittently doning a white tuxedo. Yet he avoids a straight duality between the two: sometimes the salon aesthetic and the freedom are fully intertwined, and the music, laden with a muted sense of disquiet, sounds as fresh as tomorrow.
Gill can be a firebrand on his alto, but here prefers mostly to paint watercolour motifs on a canvas that he and his collaborators leave largely exposed. Paul Cutlan’s clarinets, Yutaro Okuda’s guitar, Jacques Emery’s double bass and Luke Sweeting’s accordion and piano all dance with the same restraint; all move effortlessly between using their instruments as sound sources in sparse improvisations, and using them to create nostalgia for a music that never was (Sweeting’s accordion especially effective in this regard). That sparseness, aided by the absence of a drummer, is actually somehow emphasised by the group’s occasional use of percussion.