Tjoe Man Cheung is a musician who offers an incredibly skillful and creative presentation of jazz-infused, guitar-led, instrumental music, likely to put a spark in the step of anyone who listens.
The EP Flow London begins with a track called Walking In The Rain, and what’s wonderful about it is that the instrumentation is so appropriately crafted, that this title becomes the very feeling you get as the music unfolds around you. This opening track is just short of six minutes long, but the journey it embarks upon is insanely detailed and in fact mesmerising to witness. There’s so much that takes place, not least of all the superb guitar playing – there’s a story-like structure to the music that varies and evolves with every moment.
The Music Never Stopped follows the opener, the vibe now a little a more mellow, at least for the opening few bars. There’s a lot more space in this track, by which I mean your attention is much more focused on, and at times hypnotised by, the artist’s guitar performance. The switch later on to the flugelhorn has a very classic touch of inspiration to it, as does the ongoing double-bass line – the whole thing leaves you pining to set foot in a smokey jazz bar, probably somewhere in the streets of London.
One thing that can be said for certain about this project is that no two moments are the same, there is no complacency, and certainly no lack of creativity or talent. The music that takes place has a vintage kind of substance to it, there’s an element of nostalgia, but the melodies throughout are always new, always fresh, always expressing some sort of tale or story or feeling that’s impossible to predict, and this is where the appeal lies. The professionalism is of the absolute highest quality; in terms of the performances, the composition, and indeed the recording and production. The creative freedom on top of this makes for a truly enjoyable and quite exciting half hour or so of music.
N5 To Edgeware mixes things up further, there’s a manic energy to the rhythm behind the riffs, and the retro sound of the leading melody adds a whole new vibe to the collection. The scene changes, the story veers off in some new direction, and at all times there is something interesting and entertaining to capture and keep hold of your attention. The same again as Four Seasons comes into play, this time even more so perhaps – the strings are a surprising and yet fitting addition to the project, and it’s worth pointing out that there is a certain energy and definitely a certain style to the guitar playing that has the artist’s personal stamp on it at all times.
For an EP, a classically shorter release than an album, Flow London has the feeling of being a massive project. The sheer number of riffs, instruments, melodies, and indeed moments, is incredible. The essence of jazz is, in many ways, this free-flowing and unpredictable musical journey, which is precisely what has been bottled up and expressed throughout Tjoe Man Cheung’s work. The freedom of it all is beautiful, and the precision of the performances, plus the unquestionably thoughtful nature of the structure, adds a gorgeous touch of satisfaction to what is an undeniably original and impressive collection of music.
Miss Someone You Don’t Know brings things to a close with a very mellow and peaceful energy. There’s plenty of space within the music to really appreciate the emotion of the piece, and in fact to contemplate the concept, the title, and even your own feelings. All in all, Flow London is a fantastic release, a memorable collection of music from a superbly talented artist. Well worth experiencing, and more than worth keeping an eye on for live shows or appearances.