Afterglow. A sure sign of a great gig. Specific details of two hours of music fade, although there will be memorable moments for sure, but your own response stays with you. For this inaugural outing, Greg Cordez’s Quintet played music assembled by the leader, some self-penned others his arrangements for this band of an eclectic mix of tunes from the ground breaking trio Bad Plus, through jazz giants Hank Mobley and Charles Mingus via bang up to date, somewhat less well known contemporary American players – Todd Sickafoose anyone? And they certainly triggered the afterglow effect. ‘Silence is the Question’, penned by Bad Plus’s Reid Anderson built over several minutes, from unaccompanied, emphatically stated phrases on the bass to an overwhelming roar from just piano bass and drums. The underlying tempo never really accelerated beyond the heart beat pulse at which the march like progression started. The emotional punch was big and made a bold opening to the gig. It certainly grabbed the (once again a bit more than) capacity crowd. There followed two more tunes at a similar tempo albeit with contrasting moods. Charlie Haden’s My Love and I was a song like melody with Nick Malcolm’s trumpet and Jake McMurchie’s tenor blending beautifully in tone as well as Greg’s arranged harmonies. On this and Greg’s own tune November that followed, it was evident what a great band he’s assembled. These are all players with big reputations in their own right and in demand nationally (internationally in the case of Jake’s band Get the Blessing) but they showed their class and the strength of the writing and material in the way their playing was full or surprises and response to these particular tunes. Jim Blomfield on piano showed a lyrical melodic side to his playing not always on display in more blazing post bop settings in which we often see him reminding us, if we needed it, what a complete player he is. If the first part of the set made our heart’s swell, then there was plenty to make the blood fizz as well. The Hank Mobley tune was an uptempo swing number; thos Todd Sickafoose tunes morphed from electronic rumbles through spooky off-centre grooves into open sections that gave the front line space for blazing soloing. Nick Malcolm showed his imagination and speed of thought with an incendiary work out on Blood Orange. On the Mingus tune Jake’s endlessly inventive blowing really pumped it up ending with wailing almost vocal note getting the crowd whooping along. This was a really varied set, assembled with transparent pleasure and open mindedness by the leader. The mysterious, magical combination of fine, improvising musicians interacting with each other and the raw material of these compositions and arrangements produced a special gig on Friday. Lets hope they get opportunities to do it again.
Greg Cordez Quintet, BeBop Club, Friday 19th October