The functional sleeve, and the year/month/date titles all give the impression, this album is of music as simply presented as possible. The physical object is just a statement of fact, and a means of delivery…
However, despite this rather utilitarian wrapper, Jeff Parker’s first double and live album – Mondays at The Enfield Tennis Academy, is conversely, richly detailed and spectacular.
Culled from 10 hours of live material, and boiled down to 4 side long recordings centred around drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist Anna Butterss, alto saxophonist Josh Johnson, with Jeff Parker on guitar.
Clearly the overall structure grows out of jazz but the sense of rhythm quickly positions the whole project like an exhilarating form of extended and spacious post rock.
2019-07-08 I slowly weave around the gently mutating drum beat as fragments gather then peel off like some huge looping pattern. Monday 6th of July 2019, was clearly a night the whole quartet were on fire as II whips into more agitated versions of itself. This time everything is more detailed and elaborate, teasing towards some sort of saturation point, slowly embalming in echoes and loops of itself. Then, some 13 minutes in things become even more spine tingling, as the drum and layers of electronics lock into a completely addictive mutated funk.
The various strings of ideas and episodic nature of this opening 45 minutes is impossible not to repeat and retrace endlessly.
Side 3 covers 2019-05-19, with its bleary-eyed shuffling rhythm and woozy off-centre dynamics. 2021-04-28 tumbles around in slowly intensifying fragmented grooves for another exhilarating 20 minutes.
Overall, Mondays at The Enfield Tennis Academy ends up describing a space that’s somewhere between different zones. Informed by compositions and process, like a form of minimalism, but pushed into details and grids that align into a form of head nodding bliss. File under jazz, but that’s only ever part of the story.
Taken as a live document, it’s clear the players are delighting in how much ground they can cover within such a narrow palette. The patterning that underpins these improvisations keep driving forward but whilst an 85-minute stretch might seem initially daunting, it’s a beautiful and effortless listen.