Off Minor

Musings of a Jazz geek

Bryan Corbett Quartet, and Alcyona Mick Trio, at Coventry Jazz Festival 2007

Posted June 1, 2007

A fair smattering of free gigs across the weekend… Putting them on at lunch time, in places serving plenty of food, made them, on paper, look like warm-ups; but that’s disingenuous… Good music!

Bryan Corbett Quartet, at the Escape Bar

Bryan Corbett Quartet, and Alcyona Mick Trio, at Coventry Jazz Festival 2007

« Bryan Corbett (trumpet), Levi French (piano), Ben Markland (bass), Neil Bullock (drums) »

Friday—the first full day of the festival—set off with Bryan Corbett, at the nice, newish Old Fire Station Escape bar. It opened all pretty solid, really, breezy and open hard-bop sounds; tight, prompt, and together solos, sounding like a Blue Note recording studio from the end of the 1960s. Played a couple of Dizzy Gillespie tunes… Corbett’s horns opening out wide transparent lines… Levi French providing the hard swing on keys, with assistance from Neil Bullock’s back-line percussion. Ben Markland played some nice expressive bass lines and solos. I preferred the second set, only because it was a bit more up, French switching to organ (presumably by the touch of a button) and the band moving into something a little more funky and maybe more contemporary. Corbett trading off the compact drum rides, and French nudging out the powerful funking swing…

Alcyona Mick Trio, at the Herbert Café

Alcyona Mick Trio

» Alcyona Mick (piano), Julie Walkington (bass), Jim Hart (drums) «

(Sorry the photo is so appaling). I nearly didn’t bother with this, but was glad I did… Saturday, noon, at the Herbert art gallery… Saw only about half of it, but a very solid trio, Alcyona Mick’s inspired piano ensuring everything sounded full. Individually, the tunes seemed to slot into a number of definitive styles, but they were all pretty honest; a few decidedly Bill Evans-y, a few definitely heavily Monk-ish, although most of them were Mick originals. I tend to find rhythm section trios get boring too quickly (loosing dynamics) but this swathe of styles (and blind quality) kept it well interesting. They finished the first set with a piece that was very, very Nordic-ly E.S.T (but more subtle!); all they need is the light show, and they’d be completely on their way…

Alec Dankworth – Spanish Accents, at Coventry Jazz Festival 2007

Posted June 1, 2007

Alec Dankworth

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…