Jon Lloyd’s quintet started of with a whisper on Friday at the Be-Bop Club. Whispy phrases from the leaders soprano sax floating over washes of synthy chord’s from guitar and shimmers from the drums as a plaintive melody gradually emerged. Then Tony Orrell (depping for Asaf Sirkis) set up an insistent, driving rhythm on the cymbal, and John Law on piano developed a glorious solo, full of melodic surging runs and little rythmic repeated figures before the band subsided back into the slowly moving melody that they’d started with. There were similar ingredients in many of the tunes during an evening of increasingly absorbing music. One of the highlights for me was the dynamic interplay between drums and piano. Tony Orrell simply radiates engergy on drums even if all he is doing his just playing a swing feel on his ride cymbal – he seemed to follow every twist and turn of John Law’s playing especially.
Jon Lloyd started playing with John Law in the 90s when they both made a name for themselves playing free jazz, and some of that sense of freedom was evident in the structure of many his compositions, with lots of fspace for all the soloist to follow ideas. There was nevertheless a great sense of the band playing together. More than once lovely meditative solos from guitarist Rob Palmer rose on a swell from drums and piano that seem to happen spontaneously adding to the sense of drama. Another feature of the all original set was a distinctive sound with the shape of the tunes carefully constructed to give space to some great soloing not least from the leader himself whether on the more favoured soprano, or bass clarinet. For me though, the inspired and inspiring John Law quietly stole the show with a constant stream of melodic and rythmic invention from the piano both during solos and accompaniment, the laptop stashed by the piano providing a few more colours to blend into the sound at various points.