Role Model is the debut solo album by jazz violinist - and occasional vocalist - Dominic Ingham. Ingham might be familiar to some readers through his band work with Bonsai, which also features his brother, Rory Ingham, on trombone. The band attracted further attention when they were nominated as Newcomer of the Year at this year’s Parliamentary Jazz Awards.
His solo album features a fine group of young jazz musicians. Only Jonny Mansfield joins from Bonsai, and he plays vibes her rather than drums, lending a Gary Burton-like feel to certain tracks. The rest of the band is comprised of Scottish pianist David Swan, New York-born bassist Will Sach, and drummer Boz Martin-Jones. Of note, each member of the band brings their distinct musical personality to the album, which makes it feel more of an ensemble work, rather than just a solo album.
The album opens with the fluid, driving title track, which sets the tone for the album. It’s a complex piece, which chops and changes a few times, without ever losing its sense of shape. David Swan impresses on piano, handing over the band leader for a solo of his own before the track builds to a close.
Fall is the ‘single’ from the album, and one of my favourites. It opens with a delightful groove from drum and bass, leaving lots of space for Mansfield’s vibes and Ingham’s wordless vocal. Ingham’s violin then takes over, creating a cool, atmospheric piece.
Watch the cool video to Fall here:
PJ’s is next, opening with a Latin beat from drummer Boz Martin-Jones. He’s then joined by Will Sach’s bass. He takes a fine solo on this tune, with fine support playing from both piano and vibes as he does so. It’s another fine ensemble piece, with the whole band impressing with their interaction.
Intro to Phones is a delicate piano-led piece, that transitions into a drum and bass led groove that dominates Phones. Ingham’s violin really soars here, demonstrating that the bandleader can play in a wide variety of settings. There’s also room for a vibes solo from Mansfield, who impresses throughout.
Daydreaming, as the title suggests, has a more wistful feel. The piano and bass set the tone, here, with Martin-Jones switching to brushes. Ingham’s violin sounds more folky here, and he takes an impressive solo, followed by Mansfield on vibes.
Bottles, like the opener, is a track that constantly evolves. It’s not necessarily a tune you’ll be humming, but the interplay between the various musicians is quite thrilling here, like multiple conversations around a dinner table. Passport brings the album to a close, with Ingham delivering a fine solo over the busy beat, bringing the album to a suitable crescendo.
I have to admit that I’m not normally a fan of jazz violin. Somewhat surprisingly, nor is Ingham, who’s main musical influences include guitarist Pat Metheny and saxophonist Michael Brecker. And maybe that’s why I enjoyed Role Models so much. It’s not a jazz fusion album, like Ponty, just a fusion of fine young musicians who together deliver more than the sume of their parts. It’s an album that rewards repeated listening, and delivers more each time you hear it. Highly recommended.