Skip to main content

Dylan Howe: Subterranean

Steve’s boy revisits Bowie’s Berlin.

For as long as it’s been around, jazz has used popular music as a springboard into exploratory adventures, taking tunes on all kinds of tangential journeys.

So Dylan Howe becomes part of a long, noble tradition here, as he arranges songs from David Bowie’s Berlin period for a jazz quartet. The instrumental tracks on Low and Heroes are steeped in elements whose playful ambiguity is deliberately porous and inchoate, out of sync with Bowie’s normal output and heading into the darker recesses of electronica and ambient. Howe’s sensitive arrangements respect and maintain the brooding mystery of the originals, but are not so restrictive that they prevent the band from pushing the music in other directions. Ross Stanley who, along with Dylan, is a member of the Steve Howe Trio, adds some subtle synth work that captures the essence of the distant architectural grandeur visible in Bowie and Eno’s designs. There are imaginative takes of Subterraneans, Warszawa and All Saints, and Brandon Allen’s garrulous and effusive tenor sax excursions bring a winning warmth and humanising dimension. Top marks for invention and accessibility. SS ** **