After icy blasts and un scheduled snow showers in April and an intense dose of other preoccupations, I did manage a few excursion to gigs. May promises to be a bonanza, starting with Cheltenham festival this weekend. Colston Hall sees a visit from Kit Downes on Thursday and the Bad Plus next Sunday (12th) and Niki Iles’ Printmakers are not so far away at the Royal Welsh College in Cardiff in between on Friday 10th. And then Iain Ballamy pops up at St James wine vaults in Bath with Jason Rebello and the rest of the regulator house trio. A feast, a feast! Sadly no pudding with jazz absent from the Bath Festival at the end of the month.
April’s samplings included Mike Mower at the St James Vaults. Despite his reputation as a writer and composer, he confined himself to standards and like so many visitors, visibly warmed and stretched out as the evening proceeded and the quality of the house trio nudged and pushed him on. Alex Hutton passed through on a tour with his trio. Sadly I was only able to catch the end of an appetising evening in Bath organised by John Law. Bass player Yuri Goloubov and drummer Asaf Sirkis form the rhythm section of both Law and Hutton’s trios so the evening was a double bill of both trios. Happily I caught up with Alex for his visit to the Be bebop club on the 27th April.
As with his album Legentis, the gig put a spring in the step as much for the writing as the playing. Writer/ composer – composer/ writer Hutton wheeled out attractive melodic themes over insistent rocky vamps, hymn like stately themes, hummable catchy tunes over loosely swinging grooves. The playing had a fair bit of piano history condensed and personalised. From romantic delicacy, through plenty of Keith Jarrett like fluency and melodic invention with no shying away from muscular block chords with more than a nod to Errol Garner. And that rhythm section! There is always the possibility that they’ ll steal any show. Yuri Goloubov’s unaccompanied intro and then playing of the theme of the one standard of the evening, I hear a Rhapsody, was a highlight.
This was a delightful tour through Alex Hutton’s music and, via a few stream of consciousness anecdotes, a bit of personal history. It put a spring in my step.