Led Bib - Umbrella Weather album review

Neat grooves and explosive solos whip up a storm.

Led Bib - Umbrella Weather album artwork

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British jazz has always been a perilous place to be.

Gigs can be few and far between, line-ups come and go and the appetite of audiences for something beyond the usual comfort zones can be zero. In this context then, there’s something to celebrate about Led Bib’s eighth studio album with a line-up that’s unchanged since their 2005 debut. That last point is probably the most important because it helps explain the degree of chemistry these players have that makes their brand of on-the-spot improvisation so compelling. Listening through this album is really like eavesdropping on a riotous conversation between old mates; there are all the in-jokes, good-natured wind-ups and lots of putting the world to rights with more than a few righteous and well-chosen arguments. There are also times when things don’t get anywhere, but what’s a few dead ends between friends? With two alto saxes delivering spiky themes, energy is maintained throughout by Mark Holub’s thrashing drums. Though not offering any significant departures from their previous work, when, after lots of skirmishing, saxes, bass, drums and keyboards all lock tight into what are often sumptuous and articulate melodies, Led Bib can do no wrong.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.