Off Minor

Musings of a Jazz geek

Bruise, at the Red Rose 19/4/07

Posted April 21, 2007

Tony Bevan and Orphy Robinson

I think this must rank as one of the best nights of free-music I’ve seen… A special CD-release performance by Bruise (Tony Bevan, saxes, Orphy Robinson, marimba?/steel drum/electronics, John Edwards, bass, Mark Sanders, drums, Ashley Wales, electronics), joined by guest Matthew Bourne (keyboards), at the Red Rose, Finsbury Park (and technically forming this month’s Back in Your Town).

The first set opened slowly, Mark Sanders beating out a call on block chimes, to be answered by Ashley Wales’ tactful electronic sound-scapes, and gentle vibes from Orphy Robinson. Tony Bevan came in with delicate tenor saxophone motifs, while Matthew Bourne laid out tight mathematical patterns on keys. After a while, John Edwards put out a grandiose rhythm on bass that pulled everyone up, and pushed the juggernaut forwards… Although crass, Bruise would be a pretty good metaphor for that first set; from then on, it was an assault that simmered away just under the obvious surface; a great momentum, but perhaps without a singularly identifyable drive; a purely collective contribution… However, individually: Tony Bevan is a great performer and presence, with articulate, powerful lines; Sanders’ loose, rootsy drumming maintaining the pulse… Wales deployed some background electronic effects that meshed nicely with the acoustic sound, his palette ranging from computerised glitch beats, to extended concrète big-band recordings and voice samples. Orphy Robinson played both marimba (electronic, plus effects pedals, and I think it was a marimba) and also steel drum, its uniquely bright sound adding an interesting and unusual texture to the mix. (Actually, it was a pretty impressive balance, all through, particularly—I think—for such a relatively complex instrumental base.) Alongside Tony Bevan, John Edwards was the star of the show; I think he might have been at the most inspired I’ve ever seen him… He played a short solo someway into the first set that was just fantastic, mesmerising… Overall, a great energy to everyone’s playing, continually avoiding the studious.

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Led Bib, at the Vortex 10/4/07

Posted April 11, 2007

Led Bib at the Vortex

A totally incendiary (two) sets from Led Bib at the Vortex, this Tuesday. Another of The Babel label’s great young progressive jazz acts… they were there promoting their new album Sizewell Tea (apparently released April 23rd, but available some places already).

Going in to see this was a fairly on-the-whim sort of thing, based pretty much on hearing their track on this month’s Jazzwise cover-mounted Babel sampler CD (pretty decent, plus you get a free magazine with it, too). I guess they’re a sort of punk-funk-jazz quintet; more ‘jazzy’ than Babel-mates Acoustic Ladyland or Polar Bear, but sharing that hot contemporary-London-jazz feel; a bunch of music-school graduates coming through from a background of growing up listening to rock music… What?

Led Bib is: Liran Donin (bass), Toby McLaren (keyboards), Chris Williams (alto sax, left in picture above), Pete Grogan (also alto sax), and Mark Holub, the group leader (on drums). The gig itself was a bit of a slow start; the band making it onto the Vortex stage almost an hour after the scheduled start, and with the first set seemingly thrown off-kilter by PA issues; the second set was a lot more cooking… The twin sax line up is cool; in a band like Polar Bear, for example, the saxes (Pete Wareham and Mark Lockheart, in that case) tend to stick quite close together, weaving around a single line. With Led Bib, Grogan and Williams play the heads tight together in free swirls, but then separate with very much their own distinctive voices; Grogan plays a more considered, traditional line, with occasional Coltrane-tinges, while Williams is more stream-of-consciousness: every now and then moving into great bursts of bebop-Marshall-Allen. Liran Donin is a great bassist, contributing a couple of brilliantly melodic solos. Toby McLaren was laying the groove well-down with some tight Fender Rhodes, perfectly meshed with Holub’s restrained but inspired drumming. Holub is a New Jersey ex-pat, and you can hear a strong New York-downtown vibe in their music; free-jazz but with the awareness that “people are listening”. Really fantastic group; the nuclear-power reference from their Sizewell Tea is probably pretty apt, just a great fun uplifting band… Sample sounds are available on their myspace and Babel pages…

Boat-Ting 2/4/07: Ricardo Tejero / Javier Carmona / Ian Smith / Marcio Mattos, and others…

Posted April 3, 2007

Boat-Ting 2nd April 2007

Another foursome of great music at Boat-Ting, this Monday night. Opening were Alex Ward (clarinet) backing the poety of (the beautiful) Sibyl Madrigal. Alex Ward (website) is just perfect, really… Madrigal is the MC of the evening (and, presumably, Boat-Ting curator) so she tried to claim that they were just the warm-up act. Nonsense. It’s great seeing something fall together so effortlessly, almost ad-hoc… it’s why these evenings are so hot.

Second up were what was now safely described as the Boat-Ting house band: Steve Noble (drums), Lol Coxhill (sax) and John Edwards (bass). I think this is maybe the third Boat-Ting night I’ve written about on this fledgling blog, and I mentioned before that I’ve had difficulty really getting right into Lol Coxhill… Watching this “residency” fortnight-after-fortnight, I think it’s all come together; I’ve finally fallen, completely, under Coxhill’s manifest genius… Although I still haven’t bought any of his records…

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