“I met two brothers called Bancroft, They’re good”
Sun Ra in The Guardian
“Exceptional quality of Phil Bancroft’s writing……..his compositions will become jazz standards of the future.”
“A significant figure in the ascent of the Scottish new-jazz scene over the past decade”
“An awesome saxophone player”
Jez Nelson, Jazz on 3, BBC Radio 3
“Jazz has an international lineage of elegiac storytellers (Shorter-Ornette-Jarrett-Garbarek-Frisell-Endresen) and Bancroft makes a suitable addition to these voices, balancing restraint and propulsion with consummate ease.”
Kevin LeGendre Echoes Magazine
“kaleidoscopic, freewheeling beauty…….”
Trio AAB Album featured in MOJO- 1000 ultimate CD buyers Guide.
Selected as one 91 must-have jazz CD’s from the history of the music.
“Second album for rather dark, marvellously irreverent Scottish trio featuring Phil Bancroft on saxophones, Tom Bancroft on drums and Kevin Mackenzie on guitar. The whole has a confident openness- there are shades of Bill Frisell’s atmospheric sound painting and Ornette Coleman’s spacey freedom- but it’s also full of knotty, obsessive melody and faintly neurotic repetition that pulls the listener in. Terrific.”
“More and more, Phil Bancroft is becoming the musician to watch in Scotland”
Scotland on Sunday
The Guardian Top 10 Jazz Albums of the Year (Christmas Review section 30/11/01) Trio AAB Caber 021
“Terrific Scottish jazz and improv trio – Coltrane and Ornette Coleman meet Celtic pipe laments and even the occasional didgeridoo. The founders are the Bancroft brothers, Tom on drums and Phil on saxophones, plus the highly creative guitarist Kevin Mackenzie . The pieces move through agile Ornette Coleman uptempo dances, to clattery funk and pre-bop tenor-sax romanticising. There’s even a fusion headbanger called Pay Some Fucking Attention.”
“Phil is the most viscerally exciting of saxophonists…..”
“And so to stately Islay House, where Trio AAB lived up superbly to their “Scottish jazz’s most creative unit” tag with a performance that prodded, poked, challenged, and flirted with danger in the most lyrically beguiling and rhythmically engaging way. Conclusive proof that jazz can go right to the edge and still emerge with a big grin on its face.”
“A vision of jazz in the 21sst century”
“Trio AAB, that excellent free-Celtic ensemble, has come up with another cracker. Though the modus operandi is free jazz, the trio has a very broad appeal- catching ECM fans with Phil Bancroft’s Coltrane-and -pipes lilt over MacKenzie’s spooky chording, Ornette Coleman admirers with it’s full tilt slewed-bop inventiveness, and plenty of coolly empathetic, one-touch swing dialogue for strict jazzers in between. Phil Bancroft is also an uncannily powerful composer with such restricted resources, as the darkly ruminative ‘Fall’ confirms.” Jazz UK
“Phil Bancroft captures the surging energy of tenor sax giants Joe Lovano and David Murray”
“The three musicians in Trio AAB are all adept at playing in conventional jazz forms. In this band, however, the emphasis is on a more freely-structured process of group improvisation, working intuitively but with discipline and mutual understanding from often very simple material. Phil Bancroft (saxophone), Kevin MacKenzie (guitar) and Tom Bancroft (drums) are highly inventive musicians, the basic pre-requisite for this kind of playing….the absence of the bass player either laying down a strict pulse or a definite root in the harmony allowed a great deal of space for creative experiment. They employed that freedom intelligently and their music was replete with bright, insistent melodies. Phil Bancroft has always been an adventurous saxophonist with a strong, muscular sound and a fertile flow of ideas. Kevin MacKenzie soloed in spiky, oblique, richly imaginative fashion, while Tom Bancroft’s agile, propulsive drumming played an equally important role in the collective dialogue… Trio AAB stamped their own original mark on everything they played.”
“Beguiling, itchy, industrial creativity” The Herald
“A saxophonist who frequently exploits the synchronicity between Scottish pipe laments and the sax legacy of John Coltrane, writes most of the material-from slowly undulating exercises in tone-poetry to devious Ornette Coleman-like swingers. There are also electronic wanderings like funky didgeridoo music, battering funk and traditionally breathy tenor ballads.” The Guardian
“The most complete mix of originality and invention” The Times
Phil Bancroft Quartet
La Belle Angele
As the song says, this could be the start of something big. Edinburgh-based
saxophonist and composer Phil Bancroft introduced an exciting new quartet
for this concert, and an entire set of new music composed with the help of a
commission from the Performing Rights Society.
The band was a genuinely international affair, with guitarist Mike Walker
from England, bass player Reid Anderson from America, and the brilliant
Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen. Bancroft confined himself to tenor
saxophone, blowing in his usual powerful and passionate fashion, while
Walker’s superb guitar solos provided a sharp contrast in style with
Bancroft’s more regular collaborator on the instrument, Kevin MacKenzie.
The more overtly energised up-tempo tunes such as Groove made the most
immediate impact, but all of the music built in increasingly intense waves.
It was rooted in the principles ushered in by Ornette Coleman, in which the
traditional base of structured harmony is replaced by extended melodic
improvisations over a shifting, highly flexible rhythmic base.
Anderson and Strønen worked in highly intelligent fashion in that
department, and given the opportunity the already high level of group
interplay can only develop even further.
The Glasgow Herald
The considerable expectations riding on this new group rose significantly
when the mystery fourth member was revealed as guitarist Mike Walker.
A player of modest Mancunian mien, but with the ability to deliver the big
stuff required by past employers including composers George Russell and Mike
Gibbs, Walker joined the formidable New York double bassist Reid Anderson
and Norwegian Thomas Stronen , one of the sharpest, most individual drumming
talents to have emerged in Europe inrecent time, in a quartet which could at
last establish Phil Bancroft on the international jazz circuit.
The saxophonist certain sounded at ease leading such heavy duty company.
Years of working at his playing style, a splendid melange of intelligence,
suppleness, and hard blowing aggression, have given him the required
confidence and strong musical personality. The PRS Foundation gave him the
funds to compose new music. and the result on first airing was hugely
Varying between loose structures over ostinato figures or “time, no
changes”, contemplative ballads, themes with a subtle Scottish lilt, and
go-for-it grooves, and with typically Bancroftian titles such as BOIP (Brain
Overload In Public) Avoiding and Double-Trouble (for twin brother Tom), this
was music of weight beauty and no little beauty.
The musicians involved are all capable of bringing compositions quickly to
life – Anderson often playing a strong holding role, while Stronen
clattered artfully on kit and sundry floor-strewn percussives., Walker
wrenched at strategic chords and blues-wailed purposefully, and Bancroft’s
tenor charmed, seered and soared. Even so it was impossible to resist
speculating on what it might sound like after, say, a dozen more outings.
Phil Bancroft Quartet, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, ****
It’s coming up for two years since Phil Bancroft launched this international
quartet at Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2002 with such a flourish, and if the
direction the Edinburgh-based saxophonist has pointed the group in hasn’t
necessarily lived up entirely to expectations, the level of maturity it has achieved
has exceeded even the most optimistic predictions.
The most striking aspect of this gig, arranged to mark the release of the
group’s first CD, Headlong, was the amount of control the quartet displays
collectively. Rather like a singer who can strip paint off the walls but prefers a
more moderate approach, there’s power in reserve here, and when one or all let
loose, as in Mancunian guitarist Mike Walker’s scorching solo on Goes Around,
Comes Around, you’d best hang on to your seat.
Understatement, though, can be as much of a test of nerve, and in pieces such
as the album’s title track, Bancroft is patiently fashioning tone poems
reminiscent – in mood if not in actual content – of Joe Zawinul’s classic turn of
the 1970s works such as His Last Journey.
With these pieces as much as with the customary oblique melodies of Golden
Section and the dark riffing of Groove 421, Bancroft confirms, if confirmation
were necessary, that he has his own distinct voice as both composer and player.
His saxophone playing, passionate, at time whimsical and often showing a
beguiling emotional vulnerability, grows ever more persuasive and in the company
of the startlingly inventive Walker, the industrious, super-responsive
Norwegian drummer Thomas Stronen and the economical Steve Watts on bass, he’s
creating music that deserves an international platform to match its international