The last two tunes of the set I caught at the Ring o Bells this evening, segued together, somehow summed up this riveting excursion for top class pianist and Bath resident Dave Newton with local mean fiddler John Pearce. Caravan started with percussive plucking on the violin locking effortlessly with the propulsive riff from the keyboard. Furious soloing from Pearce, making full use of his prodigious technique honed through a full on classical training and career, gave way to an inventive scatter gun passage from Dave Newton, starting with simple half time phrases, accelerating and then dipping in and out of stride piano. What might have been a ‘kerrang’ type ending dissolved into a lullaby like melody, all singing violin and flowing arpeggios from the piano. I half thought they were diverting into the classical repertoire (John Pearce has something of a reputation for launching into Bach in the middle of gigs), but the strains of Honeysuckle Rose gradually emerged and the feel morphed into heavy swing. They ended with lines from piano and violin wrapping round each other as the duo traded phrases and played over each other. The reference points for this duo were firmly rooted in classic standards repertoire and swing and be bop styling, although Pearce’s classical phrasing never seemed far away.
The quality of this gig was pretty typical of the fare served up at the Ring o Bells’ cosy bar in Bath’s Widcombe Parade every Sunday. Hats off to Joe Spibey who has nurtured the gig over a few years now and negotiated with the pub (recently voted Bath’s best Gastro pub, no mean feat in a town where there seems to be one round every corner). There’s a fine regular programme, John Law will be back soon with Nick Sorenson and Dorset based Phil Clouts is coming soon. Its a bit below the radar it seems, but well worth seeking out.