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UROBORO – A STORY LIKE FIRE (2023) 2 x CD (Discus Music)

Uroboro is named after the symbol for a serpent eating its own tail and also, apparently a symbol of connection, continuity and renewal. It also symbolises the improvisational approach Uroboro take based on saxophonist Keith Jafrate’s partial compositions, which are structured, lyrical and visceral, sometimes inspired by his native landscapes in West Yorkshire.

There are 21 tracks (not all of them on the CDs) recorded live at the Old Post Office Depot, Todmorden on 24th and 25th August, 2022 and The Mill, Walsden on 15th September, 2022. Inevitably there are two versions of some of the tracks including ‘The Huntress’ which is the jewel in the crown for me and ‘Straight Up Ahead’ which approximates jazz rock with a guitar and electric piano. My difficulty was trying to appreciate live performances without visuals, particularly important on the title track, an enigmatic experimental piece which would be better witnessed than listened to on a recording. ‘A Dream Where Birds Dream’ is another strong piece, with narrative on one version which, again, would be better experienced live. I did gravitate towards pieces like ‘Unlaced’ which accorded well with my melodic jazz-based sensibilities, and which shows up the rhythm section (piano included) at its best.

 “A Story Like Fire” is an awful lot to take in for a debut album, and would have benefited from some editing and less repetition. In its best moments it is really good, but overall didn’t really set me on fire!

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