Trio Libero, Guildhall, Bath Festival, Saturday 2nd June

This late evening set, starting at 10, in a dimly lit Guildhall was a dream like experience. Despite a fair bit of critical acclaim for the album and appreciative reviewing for the live performances I came to this gig without having heard a note of this band. The individuals are very familiar from other contexts and I certainly wasn’t expecting a blast of furious blowing or window rattling grooves. But the charm, simplicity and sense of a single unit breathing together was more than I could have expected. The pace never gets above a gentle canter and the melodies are almost all folk like pentatonic scales, albeit with subtly shifting modulations. That simplicity means that the intensity with which each note and phrase was delivered stood out and the freedom with which the time was stretched and paused without the momentum dropping emphasized the mutual understanding.  This felt, more than many gigs, to be about how it was done as much as what.  The themes are all appealing and beautifully crafted. Michel Benita quietly stole the show for me with chord-like counterpoint and singing melodic lines.  A minimal use of electronics set off a drone here or a loop there to play against, other than that the atmospherics came from Andy Sheppard’s characteristic sighs and flutters through the sax or textures and quiet squeals from the ever inventive Seb Roachford on drums.  Its is a fine line I think between this quiet intensity and being too low energy. I experienced this as a magical little bubble; a few punters owned up afterwards to entering a dream like state at some points, but it left me wanting to go and listen again and more. Beautiful music.


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