It was an honour to be at the gig, which is too pretentious a phrase for a gig that was so much fun. Paul, Steve, Dave and Andrew raised listening intensity to an amazing level, and shared their joy and intensity with us.
Paul Booth led the band with his powerful tenor playing, using the whole range of tone and pitch of the instrument. Steve Hamilton flew in from Edinburgh for the gig, and flew back after it: his fingers, feet and whole body flew on the piano. Dave Whitford on bass was the pulse, adapting to it as it changed, moving it when he needed to, all this melodically and with perfect intonation. Andrew Bain must be loved by his students: he was a wonderful example of technique and shared emotion last night.
The band gave us Paul’s originals, and some covers. The originals were great, decided upon late, and surprising. Who would have expected Edgar Sampson’s “Stompin at the Savoy”? “Bb OK, guys?”. But I want to concentrate on one of Paul’s compositions, and one cover.
The first set ended with an as yet untitled number of Paul’s. Steve began with some beautiful ambient abstractions which had the audience enthralled. As the other instruments came in the tempo increased and the music became spikey. Ideas from each player kept piling in, changing the tempo and the mood, making build after build. When it was over I heard “That was a treat” from more than one listener around me.
Duke Ellington’s “Cotton Tail” was played in the second set. Paul played a beautiful extended intro before the others came in. One would expect that Paul had made an arrangement for the number. Not so. If you closed your eyes you heard a seamless arrangement. Eyes open, the subtle cues were sometimes apparent.
The tune stared as a fast bebop, Steve very spikey on the piano. There was a stunning duo between bass and drums, leading to a very slow passage. They then brought it back to it’s original speed. Then the doubled it. And doubled it again. And again. Everybody, us too, was breathless.
Follow that, then.
Easy. Next week, we have the beautiful voice and presence of Joanna Eden, singing songs around the life of Ella Fitzgerald. Of Joanna, Time Out says “The UK’s answer to Diana Krall and Norah Jones”. The Chris Ingham Trio, (Chris on piano, Joe Pettitt on bass and George Double on drums) will be with her. Joanna will be bringing her stunning new album, “Truth Tree”.