Round up – Ray d’Inverno at the BeBop, Marius Neset & Daniel Herskedal at St. Georges, September 14th & 17th

An auspicious start to what looks like a feast of live music throughout the autumn in the Bristol/ Bath area. Ray d’Inverno returned after a visit in January with his Quintessential Groove to launch the Be Bop Club season on Friday night. Interestingly, almost none of the material they played was the same although running a similar gamut of folky, hymn like ballads, driving post bop swing, hip contemporary American jazz (you know –  that feel with almost even quavers, retains a swinging feel and a hint of a backbeat), the odd latin burner and even a standard or two. A good start to what looks like a great programme this autumn. St. George’s launched a similarly enticing programme with a free gig by a saxophone and tuba duo. The saxophonist was Marius Neset. It was hard to miss the buzz around his debut Golden Xplosion album last year and the reports of a couple of previous visits to the area, so no doubt like a few others, that reputation, curiosity and the ticket price (!) drew me there. What a weirdly beautiful, quirky delight it turned out to be. I can report that the tuba, as well as being a conventional low pitched brass instrument, is also in fact a tuned didgeridoo and an excellent, entirely acoustic device for beat boxing. The range of accompaniment this offers and Neset’s prodigious and protean facility on the saxes meant there was scarcely a moment when there wasn’t something riveting happening. I must confess a wave of nostalgia for the Bath Jazz Festival of a few years ago  when it seemed the continent of Europe had been combed to unearth unlikely ensembles that somehow combined their own folk and classical tradition with the jazz instinct for groove and improvisation creating moments of pure magic. This was one one such evening and the acoustic at St. George’s was perfect for the occasion.

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