CD Review ‘Future Pop’ – Altsounds.com March 2010

28th Mar 2010

With nine instrumentals and an average duration of six minutes, several lead instruments, complex rhythm sections and vague titles that makes you wonder what they were smoking before they made up the set list, calling your album “Future Pop” might be a bit optimistic. However, Leah Gough-Cooper and her band Human Equivalent do have their reasons to be optimistic. Ever since she started out, Gough-Cooper has been hailed as the new jazz sensation and given this album, that’s not a surprise. Entering the world of jazz college only five years ago, when she was sixteen years old, the young saxophonist has been invited to many a jazz festival and played with many a known musician. Drawing inspiration from Frank Zappa and Bjork as much as from Wayne Shorter and Michael Brecker, Gough-Cooper didn’t take the easy way, but it pays out on her band’s album debut.

Though it’s her name featuring on the album cover and Human Equivalent is definitely her band, ‘Future Pop’ is nothing like a solo album. It is, in fact, quite surprising how small a role she’s got on her own album. Opener ‘Future Pop’ sees her collaborating on an exciting piece of jazz psychedelics, with her and guitarist Serghio Jansen firing away the solo’s on the rhythmic sounds of the Rhodes piano. With the calming ‘Only a Matter of Time’ and the lounge music of ‘Leaf Blower’ in between, where pianist Alan Benzie serves as the main contributor, it’s only on ‘Hollywood Ghost Dance’ and ‘Politix Street’ that she’s the one shining out.

Luckily for her, ‘Politix Street’ is the highlight of ‘Future Pop’. ‘Hollywood Ghost Dance’ is an amazing piece of fusion – combining soundtrack, pop, jazz and experimental rock – with drummer Patrick Kunka and guitarist Jansen highlighting the lot. But it’s the nervous breakdown jazz of ‘Politix Street’, once again with Jansen and Benzie having a prominent role, that shows why Human Equivalent is Gough-Cooper’s band. Rather than being egocentric and the main musical contributor, she only plays when necessary and inspired. But rather than just releasing a collection of improvisational pieces, songs like ‘Hollywood Ghost Dance’ and ‘Politix Street’ are quite epic and so much more than the regular jazz composition. Gough-Cooper’s quality doesn’t lie in her talents as saxophonist only, it’s as a songwriter that she really stands out.

In a way, the album title is not as overoptimistic as it sounded at first. After all, before Elvis made the blues rock and roll, jazz was the youngsters wild musical anthem and with so much originality hidden in her songs, Gough-Cooper does give jazz an edge of excitement again. A new jazz revolution taking over the world doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon though, but in her own jazz land, it wouldn’t come as a surprise that she will be seen as an established name any day now.

– Floris Stoter – AltSounds.com March 28, 2010, 02:23 PM

CD endorsement ‘Future Pop’ – Diverse 102.8 FM

06th Mar 2010

This is amongst the best modern jazz I have heard…. I will be playing it on my Monday night programme on Diverse FM, and be recommending it to others. – Tony Catanzaro, DJ and Presenter.

CD Review ‘Future Pop’ – Pipeline Magazine, Spring 2010

06th Mar 2010

Young Scottish saxophonist Leah Gough-Cooper has come a long way since she won an international scholarship to Berklee College of Music aged just 16. Still only 20, 2009 found her releasing her second album and playing at the London Jazz Festival. Supported in Human Equivalent by guitar, bass, keys and drums, Future Pop was recorded in Brooklyn, New York. On such a self-composed set it’s good to hear the other members of such an obviously talented band featuring significantly, although of course the main feature is Leah’s athletic technique on sax. Beware, it’s so dynamic it might scramble your brain if modern jazz is not your cup of tea. – Alan Taylor.

CD Review ‘The Edge’ – Jazzwise Magazine, Issue 139, March 2010

01st Mar 2010

Patrick Kunka, ‘The Edge’, ShredAhead SA001 (three stars)
Patrick Kunka (d), Leah Gough-Cooper (as), Alan Benzie (p) and Dylan Coleman (b). Rec. Feb 2009.

It’s a bit early to be selecting a new-star album of the year, but this may well turn out to be it. Kunka, who hails from that ultra-hip jazz Mecca of Aberdeen, is a drummer and composer of outstanding promise. He and his similarly youthful Scots posse have amassed honours at Berklee and the New England Conservatory and appeared at jazz festivals in France, Switzerland and Panama in recent months. And yet they’re almost unknown here. Prophets without honour in their own homeland, one might say. Though broadly of the Tony Williams school of drumming, Kunka can also contribute to a ballad performance with taste and sensitivity, as on ‘4am’, Coleman’s bass feature here. Equally impressive is the title track, one of those spare up-tempo themes that sound hip yet are easy to play and beg for a strong solo to suit. Altoist Gough-Cooper is the winner here, a stirring discovery of Kenny Garret-like intensity and creativity. Pianist Benzie has the ethos of Hancock and Corea under his fingers and builds a sophisticated solo. Indeed there are no weak links in this astonishing young band. Read Kunka’s webpage, track down a copy of his debut album on jazzcds.co.uk and enjoy. It might be a while before they play a club near you. – Jack Massarik.


  1. MP3: Future Pop ('Future Pop')
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  2. MP3: Leaf Blower ('Future Pop')
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  3. MP3: On the Other Side
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  4. MP3: From the Ash (live at Bar East)
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