It’s been a while since Lydian Collective released their first album ‘Adventure’ (2018) and they seem to have changed their entire approach to recording music! ‘Adventure’ was recorded without testing the material on the listening public while the tracks on ‘Return’ have all had a try out as part of their many live shows in the intervening 5 years.
I think that the new approach works pretty well – the music has more of an organic nature and less of a ‘by the dots’ feel to it.

The band themselves seem to be working more as a unit (playing all over including festivals, Ronnie Scotts, Jazz Cafe will do that for you) and the music definitely has the individuals playing off and with each other. The lineup of the band’s four musicians - Aaron Wheeler (keys), Todd Baker (guitar), Sophie Alloway (drums) and Ida Hollis (bass) has solidified and they do work as a true collective.

There is a great sense of groove about their music, bass lines especially coming through with a decided snap and rhythm, while Wheeler’s keyboards take the lead on most tracks with Todd Baker’s guitar playing a relatively traditional role in a Jazz format and adding some colour and fill rather than leading the line although when Baker does solo – as on ‘November’ it is a delight.

I was a fan, back in the day, of CTI recordings and the kind of Jazz fusion that backed American cop shows of the seventies and Lydian Collective definitely grab a large slice of that pie, listening to ‘Wide Open Space’ you could almost build a detective story set somewhere in the mid-west out of the theme and counterpoints.
But the other feature of CTI recordings was a great danceability to artists like Lalo Schifrin or Bob James and ‘Shuffle Bubble’ or ‘High 555’ definitely offer a booty moving groove as well.

I didn’t expect to say that the album would be good fun, but it is. Very well played and written but there is also a big smile that permeates all of the music and sends you back to the start to listen all over again at the end of the mammoth ‘November’.

Excellent album