Easily the most adventurous and audacious outfit on today's UK jazz scene, Led Bib has built a reputation over the course of seven albums for expansive improvisations and treks into genre-defying music of throbbing intensity. All Music Guide called their singular brand of jazz "explosive enough to blow up your speakers" while The Wire weighed in with: "This is the sound of a band having fun...like a hot chainsaw through butter." For their RareNoiseRecords debut, the five-piece group from London continues pushing the envelope on Umbrella Weather.
Fueled by the muscular drumming of ringleader Mark Holub and the intense fuzz bass lines of Liran Donin, further tweaked by atmospheric washes and crunchy keyboard action from Toby McLaren and sparked by the pungent twin alto saxes of Peter Grogan and Chris Williams, Led Bib stakes out a unique spot in the musical terrain that falls somewhere between the realms of John Zorn, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy, all imbued with a very strong jazz-rock sensitivity.
From the odd-metered opener "Lobster Terror" to their raucous textures on "Too Many Cooks," from the fuzz-inflected mayhem of "Skeleton Key to the City" to the turbulent "At The Shopping Centre," the expansive 5-minute ambient jam on "Insect Invasion" and the surprisingly lyrical waltz-time closer "Goodbye," this renegade outfit never fails to inject an element of surprise into each potent track. And while certain pieces like "Ceasefire", "The Boot" or the groove-heavy "Women's Power" may seem like well-crafted and tightly executed compositions, Holub explains that most of the music heard on Umbrella Weather comes about organically in the studio through a keen sense of collective intuition honed over the past 13 years of playing together. "In general, very little is written. We are mostly working in a typical jazz style of head-solos-head but in almost every tune the solos are completely open. This concept of free improvisation is a tricky one because it has become a genre all its own, but we are looking at it in a different way. With some of the tunes, we are sort of composing in the moment, rather than the sort of free association that is often thought of as free-improvisation.
Led Bib formed in 2003 as Holub's Master's degree project at Middlesex University. "We went through quite a few different people at the very beginning, but by the time of our first release in 2005 (Arboretum, SLAM Productions) the line up was set and hasn't changed since," he explains. Holub runs down the backgrounds of his Led Bib colleagues:
"Chris Williams is perhaps the most involved in the 'jazz' scene of all of us, though this is definitely more on the contemporary side. He is a founding member of Let Spin, a key member of Laura Cole's Metamorphic.
Liran Donin works a lot as a producer outside of Led Bib working both in Jazz, but also in the realms of Pop and World Music, most notably recently with Namvula Rennie, Mulatu Astatke, Arun Ghosh and Chrissie Hynde.
Toby McLaren is working as a producer, mostly in the rock world. He also plays keyboards for The Heavy, a sort of soul rock band that does quite well in the USA. He seems to be over there all the time these days!