I’d like to make one thing absolutely clear. Its just co-incidence. I just happen only to be going to gigs where Iain Ballamy is playing at the moment. This is was 2010’s first ‘Wine Vaults session’ and it was the Vaults re-born. It was busy, the atmosphere was warm, the Bath jazzarati were out in force and the band were cooking. This was a standards set, with a couple of less played jazz classics. Somehow Iain inspired the band to play beyond themselves. His style is never brash, often understated, not obviously boppish, the largely swing and jobim flavoured latin material notwithstanding and his phrases are unfailingly melodic and well…. jazzy. The band were on fire. Vyv Hope Scott on piano sounded wistful and Brad Mehldau/ Keith Jarrety on some of the early song choices (Black Orpheus, It could happen to you) and later on Wayne Shorter’s Miyako. In between there was a demented Errol Garner like bravura, stridey workout on Honeysuckle Rose. Trevor was at his choppy percussive best – from a whisper to shout as the moment demanded and some exciting duetting with Iain. Wade Edwards on bass wasn’t left behind. We were all hoping that some of the unfamiliar faces would return. John from Broad Street Jazz (perhaps the only specialist jazz CD shop outside the capital) was hoping they’d be popping into the shop soon. As we left, my other pair of ears said… you know that tune I don’t like that they played – well he made me like it. Nuff said. More Wade, more!
Iain Ballamy, St. James Wine Vaults, 28th January