Rob Luft: Riser review – guitar virtuoso makes enticingly vivacious debut | Music

London guitarist Rob Luft, a thoughtfully virtuosic head-turner in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra when he was only 15, has waited eight years to make his recording debut as a leader – bringing together vivid reworkings of the jazz tradition, African-inflected world improv, Celtic folk music, Nils Petter Molvær-like ambient grooving and much more, with a fine young quintet powered by versatile Laura Jurd drummer Corrie Dick and featuring the melodic and muscular tenor saxophonist Joe Wright. There’s an enticing vivacity to folky African dances such as Night Songs and the title track (with Luft’s guitar kora-toned, and Wright exuding a laid-back warmth), inventively layered electronics and a climactic dancefloor vibe to We Are All Slowly Leaving, a rock feel under a smokily elegant tenor melody on Dust Settles – and virtuosic McLaughlin-esque unison-theme burn-ups come and go all over the session, as countermelodic surprises in otherwise relaxed tunes. It’s a very sophisticated debut, but given Luft’s old-soul achievements since his teens, we should have heard it coming.


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