Another troupe of the London scene were criss-crossing the west this week and stopped in Bristol on a Thursday night. This time it was a quintet led by key board player Dan Wood and Fringe Jazz the port of call. I stopped by for the first set , breaking a long , rain-swept journey back to Bath. The band had been to St. Ives earlier in the week and managed to get in and out between road closures due to flooding, so Bristol narrowly avoided jazz deprivation by reason of deluge. The mercurial genius of Thelonius Monk was the focus. The repertoire was exclusively his tunes and the bands performance gave full rein to the spikey-ness and rhythm shuffling angularity of his style. There was no scope for lapses of concentration here as the front line of Nick Malcolm on trumpet and George Crowley hit every displaced phrase together and drum and bass fills completed jigsaw like themes. Dan Wood’s choice of Fender Rhodes as weapon of choice gave the Monkish stabs and rhythmical driving comping on the opener Jackie-ing a different slightly unexpected twist. The intensity loosened as the set wore on. On a duo version of Panonnica Nick Malcolm let rip on trumpet rendering the beautiful melody with by turns the sweetest warmest of tones and then whines and sighs and sliding notes. As George Crowley really dug into Think of One, Ollie Brice on bass and Simon Roth seemed to be trying to make him think of anything but one, clattering out counter rhythms and skittering patterns that made the head spin. By the time Roth launched into a rolling rattling, staccato stabs drum solo on We See he’d nearly stolen the show with restless, inventive drumming that off-set and enlivened everything. Dan Wood’s conception of Monk with this band stays close to the originator’s swinging vibe making it an engrossing set and his playing was full of the clusters, stabs and rapid runs so characteristic of Monk’s own playing albeit given an individual flourish and recast with the Rhodes’ voice. I went away humming a couple of those themes as the jazz folk lore around the Monk legend says I should and with a ‘note to self’ somewhere to be sure to catch this lot again if I get the chance.
Dan Wood’s Played Twice, The Fringe, Thursday 6th February