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Led from the back, by Seb Rochford, and including the Hastings based Pete Wareham, they are part of long great jazz tradition of drummer led bands.
Seb is well known as the drummer in the Hendrix inspired jazzers Acoustic Ladyland. He has played and recorded with a remarkably diverse range of people including Joanna McGregor, Adele, Brian Eno, David Byrne, Patti Smith and Yoko Ono. He also drummed in an early incarnation of Pete Doherty's Babyshambles playing on their first single. This wide range of collaborators is matched by the breadth of his musical taste that includes not only the jazz giants but also other artists such as grime artists Skepta,Devlin, Durrty Goodz,dubstep geniuses Burial and Kode 9 and awe inspiring singer Kaushiki Chakrabarty
Their new eponymous album is their first since 2005's Mercury nominated Held On The Tips Of Fingers, which also got a place in Jazzwise "100 Jazz Albums that changed the World" and The Guardian's "1000 albums you must hear before you die"
In Polar Bear you can hear echoes of the whole of the jazz tradition from the fusion of Bitches Brew-era Miles to Free Jazz of Coltrane and Albert Ayler. From the Hard and Be-Bop of the 40s and 50s to the frenetic ensemble playing of early jazz. But alongside the American tradition, there is also something that suggests the English pastoral sensibility of Neil Ardley, Kenny Wheeler, John Surman, Keith Tippett . There are also elements in the Polar Bear sound that suggests they have gone beyond jazz and have been listening to avant garde classical composers like, Stockhausen and Steve Reich, the punk funk of Pil and Rip Rig and Panic, laptop glitch of Fennesz and the quirky Anglo-French prog of Gong. . While you can hear elements of all these types of music, Polar Bear transcends these genres to make a form of British jazz that is uniquely their own and reflects UK music and life in the twenty first century.
Now on their third album, after their ground breaking debut "Dim Lit" and its critically acclaimed follow up "Held on the Tips of Fingers", they have produced what is their most diverse and outstanding release yet. It is an almost entirely live recording. Though it sounds like it must have taken up thousands of hours of studio time in overdubbing and re-editing. It will have the critics reaching for the superlatives and as well as scrambling for labels to describe them. Avant Jazz, avant garde, folk, fusion, post rock, punk? They are all there in the mix but out of them has been produced music that is unlike anything that has gone before.
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