Glasshopper – ‘I’m Not Telling You Anything’. Album review. Clonmell Jazz Social (vinyl, CD, digital) Release date: 28 June 2024.

So much has been written about the obvious negatives of the covid pandemic, less so about the occasional positives. Emerging from that period of darkness, and at a time of additional personal loss for Jonathan Chung, this album is his resoundingly resilient response.

Fans of Scottish jazz will know that two thirds of London-based trio Glasshopper hail from Scotland: composer, saxophonist and Serious Take Five awardee Jonathan Chung and bandmate drummer Corrie Dick are Glaswegian. Third member, guitarist James Kitchman, comes from Northumberland. Ten years ago, the friends formed Glasshopper, their live performances quickly becoming synonymous with a level of energy and improvisational chops, which elements are clear to hear on this new studio album.

Glasshopper’s sound is like a concertina: one moment expanding in rarefied contemplation, the next dense with quicksilver notes flying in all directions. Their 2020 debut, Fortune Rules, demonstrated slightly more of the former than the latter, which together with a level of melodicism ensured that album was well received. The new album, ‘I’m Not Telling You Anything,’ due out on 28th June, confidently develops that trajectory, not least the tongue in cheek punky energy. It feels as though Chung has now well and truly found his feet as a composer and the band, its distinctive sound.

Chung explains: “The title is from my stubborn quick witted 92 year old Scottish Granny (who has an incredibly sharp tongue) said to my family once. When you ask how she is, she likes to respond in a myriad of different ways… but one of my favourites is – “I’m not telling you anything, it’s none of your business.” One joke of course being that this album shares a great deal with the listener.

Indeed, this is a very fun album, full of light, the trio sounding like they are having a blast. Witty too, one example being the uncharacteristically simple charts and easy-going Pop quality of track Major Hit which is reportedly a covert dig at a few critics.

The other six tracks on the album are yes, complex, also invigorating and with some beautiful colours, as the musicians respond sensitively to each other’s play (not just during improvisations).

Typically, a tune opens simply with only one or two of the trio playing (as in Kitchman’s Beatles-reminiscent chord in Grunge), or sometimes with some delicate electronics (Take Out The Sun). A point is generally reached where there is a soft bridge or actual hiatus, after which it sounds like the trio are improvising gleefully, before nimbly finding their way back to their charts and some gentle and gorgeous endings. All the tracks are excellent, perhaps the jazz rock banger, I Go To Bed At 10pm a favourite for this listener.

Chung’s influences are reportedly wide and include Polar Bear, Radiohead and Jan Gabarek. Undoubtably his sax has a real warmth and clarity of tone, his style confident whether it be in expansive mode or carefully searching. Dick’s spikey, creative drumming and Kitchman’s ever restless guitar are perfect foils.

Glasshopper is a band that hopefully will tour widely. Happily, they will be performing at this year’s Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (see below).


Upcoming dates:

Thursday 27th June 2024 – Servant Jazz Quarters, Dalston London

Saturday 13th July 2024 – Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, The Jazz Bar, Ediburgh


Band line-up:

Jonathan Chung – composer, tenor saxophone, effects

James Kitchman – electric guitar, effects

Corrie Dick – drum kit


Photo credit: Glasshopper.

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