Review

Sean Sanby and co. craft jazz intricacies in their Out of the Candlelight album

Sean Sanby has an exquisite ear for modern jazz. Composer and bassist, he has been circuiting the Cape Town jazz scene for a while now with a degree in Jazz Performance under his belt and freshly returned from an 18-month international stint playing for Matilda the Musical.

Stepping into his own right, he’s just dropped his debut album – composed entirely by Sanby and brought to life by a collection of forthright young jazz musicians – Brathew van Schalkwyk (piano), Muneeb Hermans (trumpet), Jesse Julies (tenor sax), Damien Kamineth (drums) and Bradley Prince (guitar).

Out of the Candlelight is a nod not only to his intricate jazz composition but also to contemporary influences which weave themselves into the mix in the form of African textures, folk rhythms and whiffs of R&B – even as “Give Me Time” is peppered in lo-fi guitar distortions.

The 10-track album spans a comfortable hour of languid 8-minute compositions which knit one into the next. They have a tendency to move through stages. “In Essence” kicks off on a stripped, singular bassline and clattering percussion before lapsing into languorous brassy tones and trumpet solos. “Starscrapers” starts off gossamer-fine – all airy piano lines – before blossoming into a full blown left-field jazz conglomerate.

The titular track is richly textured and eases in with post-modern flair which would sit comfortably in a musical soundtrack – as would the guitar-led “Dreamers”. There’s a marked and effortless progression to each track as it moves through its motions. “Rise and Fall” is described in my notes after the first listen as “super magical, crazy beautiful” and perhaps that is the most apt way to phrase it all.