Loz Speyer’s Inner Space Music, Be Bop Club, Friday 23rd September

Its all too easy to reference Ornette Coleman when a small jazz group pops up with no piano or guitar; especially when the line up is saxes and trumpet in the front line with just bass and drums to ground it. Loz Speyer got his retaliation in first on Friday by explaining the title of the second tune, New Thing, was a reference to the music of Ornette and his peers in the late 50’s before phrases like free jazz and avante garde were bandied about. This seemed like a point of departure rather than mimicry though. There was something utterly warm and personal about this gig, and very moving. Even though the leader’s trumpet was often the fore, his role seemed as much to create situations that forced the band to think on their feet or  to stitch together different fragments of a tune with frantic signalling as the moment dictated.  Quirky repetive themes, often over a driving swinging feel from drums and bass,  stopped leaving a soloist (or frequently a pair – sax/ trumpet, two saxex, drums and bass) to invent without any framework (bar the occasional cued riff or short section). And indvidual personalities emerged. Jake McMurchie’s warm toned tenor slurred and squeezed phrases out, contrasting with the more rasping delivery of Rachel Musson on the other tenor and occasional soprano. These two produced the stand out moment of the evening for me.  After the stately, march like theme of Tip of the Iceberg, Speyer retreated to the congas and exchanged phrases with Mark Whitlam on drums while the two tenors gradually built a conversational exchange  over the the developing momentum of  the drums and Ollie Brice’s ever responsive bass lines. It was striking how complementary their phrases were, with their individual tones adding tension building through chant like lines to a lump in throat inducing intensity. Maybe its how they play the sax in Porthcawl (where they both Jake and Rachel spent some of their early years), but it got my vote. This was not an easy listening gig, but their was a great sense of adventure and a top class group of musicians listening furiously to keep it all making sense.

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