Jim Mullen, St. Ives Jazz Club, Tuesday May18th

I’ll own up to chuckling at St. Ives Jazz Club’s little strap line ‘the last Jazz Club before New York’, just a hint there that they don’t take themselves too seriously even though the

Jim Mullen - photo by Jeff Hardcastle

quality of the programme is top drawer. The website said Steve Buckley with the house trio, but it turned out to be Jim Mullen. I instinctively expected something quite bluesey. If I ever read about Jim Mullen, references to funk and blues are never far away, the dish tonight however was fluent, standards jazz, delivered with verve but never shouting at us. From the off the rhythm section of Ralph Freeman on piano, Marcus Vergette on bass and Pip Harbon on drums set up a vamp and Jim launched into ‘The end of a Love affair’ and the scene was set. I was captivated by  his playing. There was a very melodic almost conversational flow to the lines he was playing, delivering everything with an unmistakable ‘boppish’ accent and occasional bluesy repeated phrase to up the energy levels. As he grew steadily more loquacious between tunes, I was tempted with the idea that he improvises like he talks. Introducing the tune ‘I should care’, the stream of consciousness chat starting with ‘well someone should care’ ended with him dedicating the tune to all those who would be caring for him later in life! The same pattern of following an idea until it ends somewhere unexpected seemed to be in the playing as well – I did wonder on a couple of occasions if he’d left the rhythm section behind.

I was only able to stay for the first set but I left thinking I’d not heard enough of Jim Mullen and that if that is typical of the club’s fare then make sure you are down at the Western Hotel if you find yourself there in St.Ives on a Tuesday


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