The Eye of the Duck may be Dave Kane’s first release in his own name but this is an assured, mature and articulate debut from the bassist and his crack Leeds-based quintet. Tight ensemble playing, crafty, shifting time signatures are coupled here with a sense of high drama. Melodic, lyrical at times and powerfully rhythmic, this is music as confident in its execution as it is bold in its conception. Dave Kane’s The Eye of the Duck waves goodbye to conformity and conservatism. These musicians take from wherever they choose – and turn it into their own vision of jazz. Whether it’s the Moor-ish second track, The Gorman, or the sly, devious funk of the opener Biff, this album serves notice of Kane’s talent as a writer and arranger. And in the slow fender rhodes and bass introduction to Sad Song and the frantic pace of Hum, this record gives fair warning that the Rabbit Project pack one hell of a punch.

Without grandstanding or wilful eclecticism, this group is immediately and completely convincing and its possibilities are endless. The freedom of the title track is used as a way of moving the music into new areas, not just as an end in itself. And the same might be said of Shut Up Sit Down. As for The Only Way, in Simon Kaylor’s tenor solo it speaks volumes about how virtuosity should serve the music and never itself. Kane and his quintet hold their focus throughout and they never lose sight of the whole, of the group.

Edition Records’ fans will have heard pianist Matthew Bourne on his duo CD with Dave Stapleton, Dismantling the Waterfall, and heard Bourne and Kane on the equally excellent Bourne Davis Kane CD Lost Something. Both along with other Rabbit Project members – drummer Joost Hendricks, saxophonist Simon Kaylor and trumpeter Simon Beddoe – are members of LIMA, the Leeds Improvised Music Association Collective. The Eye of a Duck proves once and for all the value of collective action.

British jazz is going through its most fruitful era since the late sixties. Dave Kane’s Rabbit Project provide yet more evidence of that fact. Not for the faint of heart, the conservative of mind or dull of soul – The Eye of the Duck is music from a new generation for a new millennium and a new audience.