Anyone who remembers the near legendary residency of the band Code Red at Bristol’s Old Duke might have suspected they knew what they would be getting when two of the core members of that window rattling, paint stripping jazz funk outfit were billed in this quartet. Code Red sustained their weekly outing for a number of years at the otherwise firmly trad city centre pub and as well as being loud, they were outrageously funky. Matt and guitarist Andy Christie (for it was they) brought Andy Nowak on keyboards and drummer Eddie John with them to the Be Bop and the repertoire whilst still drawing on a distinctive groovy, jazz blended with rock and funk roots sound, had a strong preference for strong melodic themes and some intricate arrangements. We arrived to hear a soaring rendition of Pat Metheney’s Last Train (with the distinctive constant quaver pulse in the bass provided by Andy Nowak’s left hand throughout – a remarkable feat in itself, never mind the dazzling fluent solo). A couple of tunes by Michael Brecker, another by Bob Berg and a rocking version of Steely Dan’s ‘Do it Again’ had the territory firmly marked out with a particular blend of basically funky, rhythmically tricky phrasing, complex but striking melodies sometime doubled with the guitar sometimes underpinned by choppy accompaniments and hanging synthy chords from the keyboards. Matt’s soloing had us wondering why we hadn’t seen more of him recently: a gorgeous tone married with a casually fluent delivery of those rippling arpeggios that explore the possibilities of the tune’s harmony without losing a sense of melody. A slight moderation downwards of the volume in the second set made the band sound even better in this punters humble opinion, and rounded of a very satisfying evening.
Matt Sibley Quartet, Be Bop Club, Friday 16th March