Categorized | Album Reviews

Bert Jansch – Avocet

Posted on 15 February 2016 by Joe

I’m lucky living near the Somerset levels. I do most of my music reviewing there while dog walking across its muddy fields and streams, flanked by Glastonbury Tor to one side, the chimneys of the former Clarks shoe factory in Street to the other. At dusk and dawn in winter the sky is dominated by waves of starling murmurations. During summer the herons take charge, fishing in the River Brue while the kingfishers whizz past and the buzzards and crows fight overhead.

avocet

For the next in this excellent set of Bert Jansch reissues by Earth Recordings they have picked Avocet, a quite simply beautiful collection of instrumentals  inspired by this legendary folk artist’s own love of birds and nature and seemingly tailor made for my Somerset strolls.

Each track focuses on one bird, perfectly encapsulating their movement and daily life, including the perils and beauty of nature, from the kingfisher’s flash of electric blue across water to an Osprey looking for prey. Kingfisher immediately chimes with me as a bird I see regularly. The pace of the music is graceful but still conveys the sheer speed of this lovely bird as it darts around the river. Other birds I’m less familiar with, like the Avocet, I just have to imagine. Jansch does a fine job of helping me there with this 18 minute long album opener turning effortlessly from peaceful meander to frantic folk jam.

As well as the compositions it sounds great too. Released in 1979 there are flashes of the folk electric guitar playing that Jansch pioneered in his Pentangle days. The album also features his Pentangle bandmate Danny Thompson on his unmistakable double bass as well as Martin Jenkins’ mandocello, violin and flute to provide added quality to the mix.

Once again this was an album that is new to me via the Earth Recording reissues. I’m starting to wonder how I survived all these years of birdwatching and walking around the countryside without it for so long.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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