Ancient Infinity Orchestra: River of Light

Rating: ★★★

Record and Artist Details


Khemi Shabazz (ob)
Evan Rhodri Davies (vn, mandolin)
Ozzy Moysey (b, perc, guzheng)
Isobel Jones (v, rainstick, bells)
Toma Sapir (perc)
Jake Rider (as, perc)
Will Howard (ts)
Harley Johnson (v)
Michael Bardon (b, clo)
Mathew Cliffe (ts, f, cowbell)
Phil Smith (v)
Elliot Roffe (b)
Ella Russell (v)
Alex Bates (v)
Ruben Aaronovitch-Bruce (v)
Rose Io (v)
Ruby Taylor (v)
Oliver Dover (bs, cl, kaval)
Joel Stedman (f, bcl, cga)
Alice Spearman (v)
Marwyn Grace (v)
Megan Jowett (vla, clo)
Kamran Amin (v)
John Arnesen (d)
Lau Ro (v)
Hugh Vincent (p)
Adam Ash (v)
Georgie Buchanan (v, hp)




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Rec. 10-12 August 2022

Taping at the height of summer and basking in the West Riding sun between takes, bassist Ozzy Moysey’s 14-piece band plus auxiliary members and a guesting, 12-strong choir lived out his music’s communal ideals while making this debut. Further evidence of Leeds’ burgeoning jazz renaissance alongside fellow recent Gondwana signing Jasmine Myra, and firmly in the label’s spiritual jazz heartland, River of Light aims for bliss and balance, calm and cool.

The maximally large line-up eschews big band power. ‘Greeting’ could soundtrack dawn over the Ganges, or Leeds’ Aire, as strings gather in a swelling prelude. Moysey’s bass is central, airy on ‘Rejoicing’, where saxes’ float and eddy and the flute suggests bright birdsong on the wing, forming an undertow beneath ‘Equanimity’’s soft-rolling undulations, and always maintaining forward motion.

There is variety along the way. The epic ‘Niyama’ is heart-slowing and measured. Meant as a musical description of destructive emotional turmoil overcome by personal growth, jagged sax and a more brooding rhythm section suggest a brewing storm, but even climactic clouds of bass and strings provisionally clear. ‘Spring Break on Trappist-1’ has the choir’s supportive hum and sprite-like laughter, tipping off the straight and narrow into freer terrain, while Moysey’s guzheng – a Chinese zither – gives ‘Arc of the Sun’ more Eastern frequencies.

There could be a more expansive evolution of spiritual jazz, beyond its sylvan tropes of harp and flute, perhaps begun by Floating Points’ Pharoah Sanders summit of last year. In the meantime, the closing ‘Pharoah Sings’ is a fervent Yorkshire tribute to sacred American heroes, naming Sanders, John and Alice Coltrane, and keeping Albert Ayler in their hearts (though his soul-stripping rawness is for others). Gospel-like piano, sonorously plunging sax and lulling vocals combine with an American Songbook-style melody, leaving Moysey’s players steeped in several traditions.

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