Alec Dankworth – Spanish Accents, at the Coventry Biggin Hall 24/5/07 » Alec Dankworth (bass), Christian Garrick (violin), Mark Lockheart (saxes), Phil Robson (guitars), Marc Miralta (percussion) «
The Coventry Jazz Festival guide-booklet lists this as ‘A Taste of Spain’; the Warwick Arts Centre programme as ‘Con Alma’; but, definitively, the bands own flyer puts it as Alec Dankworth’s ‘Spanish Accents’. In any case, the clue is in the title. (Any of them.) A hard-bop, post-hard-bop quintet playing various tunes (covers and originals) of anything with a Spanish twinge… Authenticity established through the inclusion of a real Spaniard—yes, a real one—in the form of percussionist Marc Miralta, this percussion being a conventional drum kit assisted by a (pretty neat, and new to me) cajón. In fact most of the distinctly Spanish sound seemed to come from Miralta and Robson, both: Miralta’s playing consistently, impressively controlled; powerful, intriguing, changing lines. The violin added a nice extra dimension, Christian Garrick using some slight electronics, I think, particularly when called upon to recreate some Spanish bagpipes. (Apparently these are featured on Dankworth’s upcoming, related, CD release.) I was sitting there thinking back how often I’ve seen violin featured in improvising groups recently… More often than I would have imagined a few years ago… Whether that’s a movement real or imaginary I can’t say, but it’s quite interesting; the strings are capable of such a wide range of textures, compared to, for example, just a sax front-line, it’s nice. Mark Lockheart played mannered and industrious solos (is industrious the right word?)… Dankworth’s site claims that this group usually features Julian Arguelles on horns, but Lockheart has apparently been featured throughout this May tour. As for Dankworth himself, he was fluid and lyrical, but seemed to spend a lot of the time ‘running’ the band, as band-leader, leaving most of the staging up to the other players.
The tunes themselves ranged from Dizzy Gillespie, Jack De Johnette and Chick Corea covers, to a selection of homegrown material, some of it based on traditional Spanish melodies. I think it was noticeable that the band sounded best on their own pieces; the tunes had a lot more life and energy to them.
A nice straight-up jazz band, well worth checking out… CD apparently out soon… This gig pretty much opened the Coventry jazz festival, and was playing as a Jazz Coventry event at the Jazz Coventry traditional Biggin Hall…