Coming from the deep roots of the jazz side of fusion, Mark Wingfield’s reissue of his 2010 release “Sleeper Street” takes a lighter approach to his most recent releases, Proof of Light and the Stone House. Some liken his guitar synth playing to both Pat Metheny and Terje Rypdal, however I hear an unique sound that affixes Wingfield as a dominant force in the world of fusion jazz, easily identifiable as his own.
Featuring several of the UK's best jazz players, Wingfield has written songs that provide ample room for each member to be highlighted throughout the album. Iain Ballamy adds wonderful sax parts, while Jeremy Stacy precision drum work provide depth, plus Robert Mitchell’s keyboards add fantastic dynamics, and Yaron Stavi bass richly fills out the bottom. Of course Mark Wingfield’s guitar work directs the journey across the album with beautiful melodies and exuberant solos.
This is another splendid high resolution release from Moonjune Records, available in 24bit / 96k as a download file when purchasing the CD from their BandCamp page. The soundstage is wide and deep allowing for plenty of space between the instruments. The drums are wonderfully airy sounding exceptionally natural across the cymbals and down to the kick. The snare is crisp without taking over and snapping.
Wingfield chops fly across the speakers depicting many shades as he extends endless solos into the stratosphere. Nuances sizzle from his guitar as he makes use of the synclavier to define his sound. His melodies spread warmly between the channels with a decay falling deeper into the mix. One can also hear influences of John Scofield and Mike Stern on Wingfield’s burning solo at the start of Eight Shades Of Green.
As a hi-res listener, it is pieces like Parralax that are the cat’s meow for me. Dynamics are impressive and a fractionated wild romp on the piano lend to the intensity of this piece. There is a lovely room ambience that surrounds the acoustic piano as it falls slightly outside the center. The piece leads into a glacial and atonal section, then explodes into an exhilarating finish.
A strong aspect to this album is its methodical development heard as delicate soprano sax phrases over synth washes on Meiko. You’ll find the bass is full throughout the release without becoming over bearing or even sounding too bottom heavy. The feel is pleasantly natural, as is the mix between the bass and drums. Likewise sax parts are spectacularly spacious while being distinct and vibrant. All in all, the above typifies the full musicality of Sleeper Street, another amazing work by Mark Wingfield. Perfect for fusion aficionados with a bias towards completely instrumental songs. Only a few like Wingfield are keeping the torch lit.for this segment of fusion.
A must have for Winfield fans, fusion-jazz lovers, high resolution enthusiasts seeking instrumental works, and anyone else who enjoys the spirit of jazz. Still unsure, preview the album on BandCamp.