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Review: 'NJE, The'

-  Label: 'Sartorial Records'
-  Genre: 'Soundtrack' -  Release Date: '1st September 2017'-  Catalogue No: 'FIT066CD'

Our Rating:
Finally a new album by The NJE or Near Jazz Experience to give them their full title. They are a trio comprising Mark Bedford, Simon Charterton and Terry Edwards and this album may or may not be the almost soundtrack to the Near Bowsploitation epic Afloat set in and around Bow Locks. Or it could just be a peerless album of Instrumental pieces.

So, as the opening credits roll and you get comfy in your seats, the album (and film) open with the St Leonard's Suite that has three dudes strolling up and down St Leonard's Street looking all calm and collected as they peer out across towards Bow Flyover and towards the locks. The rhythm builds as they start to strut in time with the horns as they pass someone who looks like the spitting image of Richard Rowntree doing something shifty that makes the trio look at each other pull up their collars and move swiftly on.

The next scene opens with them going into Diamonds For Breakfast - the sort of greasy spoon with plastic seats and tables and a foreboding atmosphere that can only be broken by the shifting and shaking drums and a cool trumpet solo's as one of the local Youth gives them the evils for asking for Cappuccinos instead of frothy coffee.

They get up to leave and run into Songo as they walk outside who hands them a mysterious bag that's full of Base but smells of Bass. That has them picking up the pace and heading down to the Locks to deliver the bag to someone on a barge. And yes, they are back in the days when barges still showed up there even if they had to get round the barbed wire fence to do so.

Now they are Afloat on the Barge and heading towards Mile End via the Hertford union Canal. They are all chilled out and fairly muted while the contents of the bag are exchanged for a wedge of notes and they do a Bongo Cut Up with the dosh that give them all brassy stabs and muted munificence like something went wrong in Benjies again.

Still they've made it to St Mary's Suite just above The People's Palace and they're getting nice and chilled out as they look at each other wondering if that sound is really a didgeridoo or just a really cool bass as they can hear the chattering from downstairs. As the pace picks up they realize the place is going off with the trumpet solo. Well, at least I think it's a trumpet solo, sound-tracking the carnage that's unfolding on screen, or in my mind.

As the breakdown happens the blood starts flowing across the dancefloor with a full on twin sax attack being a pretty survivable blow to the geezer that gets it delivered full on. As the music builds our fearless trio make their escape through a labyrinth beneath St Mary's and come up through a manhole cover in the middle of the Ocean Estate. Which is when things get full on manic as the local Crack dealers think they are the fuzz and chase them off the estate double quick.

They duck into a dodgy dive called the Beachcomber that is very laid back and opiated and they try to lie low until everything has blown over. But, well, that really isn't this lot's style, so while the bass line is nearly a Walk on the Wild Side the rest of it is nearly chill-out music but they really need to get a car to make a proper getaway.

Having left the dive they hot wire a pristine Ford Zephyr that has a cassette of Voodoo Child in its Blaupunkt stereo as they realise they are being chased and they pick up the pace careening back down the Bow Road with the majestic sax attack marking out the swerves between the traffic as they slide under the Bow flyover and head off towards Hackney Marshes. Thankfully, for once the road is clear and they might make a clean getaway.

Acoustic pt I & II is the sound of the chase switching to a race across the marshes as they managed to plough the Zephyr into the traffic lights and so now they are running across the marshes dodging round the football matches taking place and getting abuse for running across pitches as the guys chasing them seem to be getting closer and closer and carrying rather large knives.

Just as they reach New Billingsgate they are caught and we see exactly what that Knife-Edge is good (or is it bad?) for as the squiggling squalling sax blasts coincide with the trio being stabbed and bleeding all over the place without it being clear what they had done wrong or why the guys chasing had it in for them.

Then as the end credits roll and at least one of the trio lies there dying we get to see him flashing back to the sound of We Three Kings of Orient Are scoring goals at home and apart and he is cheering Gerry Queen on as he heads in another goal for the O's that brings this Near Bowsploitation epic to a close. Phew.

Now go and get a copy of this magnificent album and create your own Near Bowsploitation epic. It's available from:

The NJE online

Sartorial Records online
  author: simonovitch

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NJE, The - Afloat