ODD coves, albums by drummers. On the one hand there is a fear of 20-minute solos, on the other a certain knowledge that most of the input will come from other musicians, which is certainly the case here, seven of them in fact .
Subtitled New Designs on Bowie’s Berlin, this is Howe’s reinterpretation of the triptych, or more accurately most of Low and a touch of Heroes. Being a jazz drummer he might have been tempted to give these cold war divided city songs a dark Coltrane arrangement, but that would have been too obvious. Instead the band rarely veers into the abstract and stays rooted to the 1950s Blue Note sound.
Much of their driving force comes from Mark Hodgson’s steady as a rock double bass which fosters ample space for the saxes and piano to extemporise, while at the same time retaining that bleak, perma-grey zietgeist of the originals. The Berlin of Trabants and Checkpoint Charlie saw Bowie at his most experimental. He should be pleased with Howe’s new designs on it.