Orlando le Fleming Announces New Album  ‘Wandering Talk’ 

This latest incarnation of Romantic Funk dazzles with its unashamed virtuosity

Orlando le Fleming Announces New Album  ‘Wandering Talk’ 

This latest incarnation of Romantic Funk dazzles with its unashamed virtuosity

orlandolefleming.com

Bassist, band leader and composer Orlando le Fleming continues to make music that crosses genres as readily as he crosses the Atlantic, with this new album ‘Wandering Talk’, released 21st June via Whirlwind Recordings. 

After 20 years in New York City, he’s back in his native UK, forging new pathways and renewing old partnerships. His love for the acoustic tradition continues unabated alongside his deep affection for the robust, muscular electric fusion that emerged in the 1980s. 

The Romantic Funk project was born in New York’s legendary 55 Bar to explore that legacy: now the new album ‘Wandering Talk’ builds on the critical acclaim generated by ‘The Unfamiliar’ (2020), building on the framework with a set of collaborators that brings together London and New York, past and present, acoustic, and electric, and merges it all into a spectacular whole.  

Following the same principles that served the project in NYC, le Fleming booked four Friday nights at London’s renowned Vortex Club to workshop the music that would become the album, with a rotating cast of players which he honed down into the final lineup. Old London friends Tom Cawley (piano/keys) and James Maddren (drums) completed the rhythm section. New acquaintance Nathaniel Facey was picked from the ranks of the UK’s brightest young saxophone players. NYC stalwart Philip Dizack flew in from the US to play trumpet and reaching back to Orlando’s school days and forward to his own family, one-time classmate Chris Martin (Coldplay) and his own daughter Nadia combined to provide vocals on a special setting of Rumi’s poetry. 

As before, the music combines fusion’s flash and fire with a contemporary sensibility. This time, Orlando’s questing spirit sends his superb band forward to investigate fresh areas of creativity in dynamic and texture. ‘Don’t Dwell on It’ makes a bravura opening statement, with Tom Cawley’s keyboards sketching out stacked fourths to evoke the spirit of Miles’ melodically spacious 80s fusion, as Facey and Dizack trade furious improvisations over the metric modulation. “I told them to go in at 90% and go up.”  

‘Tragic Magic’ has a rubato melody inspired by Keith Jarrett over a powerhouse groove, while ‘Sense of The Sacred’ introduces Orlando’s rich-toned acoustic bass to the mix, starting from a hushed ambiance before building up into a colossal dramatic climax, ála Weather Report. By contrast, the acoustic ‘Garden Shearing Blues’ was inspired by the block chords of another UK musician who built a career stateside, George Shearing. “It’s a blues… James sounds great swinging, and it’s hard to find a drummer who can do pocket and swing as well.” 

‘Repose’ is an open Headhunters-type groove tune; an 8-bar sequence with plenty of space for improvisation, with Tom’s Rhodes setting the tone. “Tom and I go back a long way – we think alike musically and personally.” Nathaniel Facey makes his mark with a powerfully individual solo. “Nathaniel has such great rhythmic imagination and has that roughness and adventurousness – he really brought the band alive. I love the contrast between him and Philip.” 

Saxophonist and master improviser Wayne Shorter wrote ‘Plaza Real’ and performed it with Weather Report and with his own live bands. “Wayne is my hero. His live version just builds and builds and builds, and so that’s how we do it.” A single take was all that was needed for ‘Spots of Time’ with Dizack delivering the stately melody over a rolling 12/8 groove. “Philip is such a mellow and musical trumpet player – but he can really create drama. He’s essential to the project – we think alike.”  

Finally, a surprise – Orlando’s old school friend Chris Martin contributes a starkly sincere vocal performance, singing words from a poem by Persian poet Rumi, in unison with Orlando’s daughter Nadia. It’s a complete contrast that somehow provides a perfect coda, a closing scene for the musical drama that unfolds across the album.  

This latest incarnation of Romantic Funk dazzles with its unashamed virtuosity but there’s a new depth of dynamic and meaning that pulls the listener into Orlando le Fleming’s continuously evolving sound world and the ‘Wandering Talk’ that inspires it. 

Personnel: Philp Dizack (trumpet), Nathaniel Face (alto sax), Tom Crawley (piano, Rhodes MK8, Prophet 12, Orberheim OB-6), James Maddren (drums), Orlando le Fleming (double bass), Chris Martin (vocals) and Nadia le Fleming (vocals). 

Tracklisting: 

  1. ‘Don’t Dwell On It’ 
  2. ‘Tragic Magic’ 
  3. ‘Sense of the Sacred’ 
  4. ‘Garden Shearing Blues’ 
  5. ‘Repose’
  6. ‘Plaza Real’ 
  7. ‘Spots of Time’ 
  8. ‘Wandering Talk’ 

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Bass Magazine   By: Bass Magazine