It’s not often that you hear full on Bebop at the BeBop Club. Kate Williams launched into Celia, bop piano pioneer Bud Powell’s composition, at a blistering pace to end the first set, playing the melody in both hands with its flurry of notes, distinctive interval leaps and chromaticisms whilst Gareth Lochrane’s flute was completely in step. The modern edge to the quartet’s take on the classic was emphasised by the arranging; lots of rhythmic stabs from Ollie Hayhurst on bass and Tristan Maillot on drums catching stresses in the melody and the racing swing under the the solos propelled by broken phrases and skips from the bass. And the soloing was edge of the seat stuff especially from Gareth Lochrane on this one. He brandished just about every size of flute available throughout the evening but for this one he picked up the one with the fewest keys and smallest range to play possibly the most notes of the evening, each phrase drawing the ear onto the next at breakneck speed to be greeted by roars by the packed club (the most I’ve seen there for a while) and a cheer from my other pair of ears who clocked the quote from Charlie Parker’s Confirmation. Not every tune was raw bebop, but the writing and arranging of the leader drawing the most out of a fabulous band was a consistent feature and the language and feeling of bop was never far away albeit with that contemporary twist. Much use was made of catchy little rythmic figures to stitch sections of tunes together, frequently doubled by bass and Kate’s left hand on the piano, and some choice selections from other writers’ pads (Eliane Elias and Jason Rebello were two). There were plenty of originals, a new untitled composition in the second set with a gentle latin feel drew my favourite piano solo of the evening with with flowing lyrical lines and expressive embellishments wrapping themselves round the flute’s statement of the theme. This is a cracking quartet, each member threatening to steal the show with some thrilling moments but the strength of the writing meant the group sound was the enduring impression.
Kate Williams Quartet, Be Bop Club, Friday 5th October.