WANDERING Monster are touring next month with several gigs pencilled in to tie in with the release of their much awaited debut album.

Well established on the northern music scene, the exceptionally gifted Leeds-based quintet is led by Sam Quintana on double bass, Ben Powling, tenor sax, Calvin Travers, guitar, Tom Higham on drums, plus pianist and keyboard player, Aleks Podraza.

Their music - described as ferocious jazz rock - juxtaposes the harmonic sophistication and improvisational approach of jazz with the rhythmic complexity of modern rock and metal, resulting in a sound that is intense, yet dynamic, sensitive and spontaneous.

Sam says that his early musical experiences included playing bass guitar in rock and metal bands: "In my late teens I developed a love for jazz, which intensified when I moved to Leeds and started studying the double bass.

"The musicians that inspired me to start writing for a group were those who blend the jazz and rock genres, the likes of Dave Holland, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Tigran Hamasyan being at the top of my list of influences."

Sam's compositions reflect the 'inner monsters’ we can all possess at some point in our lives: "The Rush Begins and Tuco let the band show off their raucous side and explore themes of anxiety, anger and frustration," adds Sam. "In contrast Sweetheart, Emöke and Happy Place are gentler and more reflective, delving into themes of grief, loss and nostalgia. Samsara, the opening track, takes us on a journey of reinvention that sees its initial motif reappear under a different guise after a passage of intense collective improvisation."

The album - on Ubuntu Music - is launched at Sela Bar, Leeds, on Sunday, January 20.

Meanwhile, the band play Zeffirellis, at Ambleside, on Saturday (January 12).

Coming up at Zeff's on Friday, January 11, are super smooth operators Blues Collusion, two performers from very different musical and cultural backgrounds: vocalist and lyricist, Amera, born in Birmingham, and guitarist and producer, Rolly from Hungary, who have cleverly combined their diverse music skills, influences and experiences to create a unique, current and original blues sound.

For Amera, she has always allowed emotions to drive her music and lyrics and finds it more difficult to write a song if she can't ‘feel’ the emotion behind it. Rolly's playing is more about his sheer love for blues music which began when he first started playing the guitar. The more he played blues and listened to the great blues artists, the more he became hooked.

Telephone Zeffirellis on 015394-33845.