Anyone who pays attention to the wider Bristol music scene will know Andy Nowak is a musician with eclectic tastes . He’s to be seen on the acoustic folk circuit, playing guitar and singing and he holds the keyboard chair in the grooving Duval Project. This outing at Fringe Jazz for his determinedly jazz orientated trio was a prelude to a ‘Kickstarter’ campaign to fund a recording. ‘Thanks for listening to us practice’ he said with a wry smile as B7 Blues finished with a snappy flourish. For the Thursday night punters , the banter between the trio about the tricky time signature (7/4) and unusual key for a blues (B) was the only clue that the shuffling funky number was anything other than a familiar well worn part of the set. With a repertoire drawing on sources as diverse as Duran Duran (no… really!), Nick Drake and Joey Caldarazzo as well the standards book and the leader’s own compositions, there was plenty of variety to keep us hooked. The rhythm team of Andy Tween and Spencer Brown on drums and bass are top drawer and made the odd metres, Brazilian grooves and pulsating swing that Andy threw at them sound effortless. It was the playing of Andy Nowak however that held this gig together and made it just a bit special. There are elusive qualities that mark any player out. A Pianist’s touch on the keyboard, their feel for rhythm and swing, the instinct of when to play and what to play, all combine to create an individual sound. In Andy there’s a light but assertive touch, seductive sense of groove and an instinctive sense and feel for space. He never over plays. The sound of bop inspired jazz is never far away and there’s a delightful instinct for developing melodic and rhythmic ideas in his solos. It was most transparent on standards like It Could Happen to You, but originals like Bloodstone with its rich harmony and that Brazilian groover stimulated lovely fluid solos. This is a very fine jazz piano trio and I for one would like to hear that album (although I must confess I think they could drop the Duran Duran cover). Keep an eye on the Kickstarter campaign here.
A quick footnote: This was another little triumph for the weekly session at The Fringe. They are going all through the summer. The July programme is here and I hear the August programme includes John Pearce with Dave Newton, Andy Sheppard’s intriguing quartet with Denny Illet and another consultation with the Pushy Doctors featuring that Andy Shepard bloke again.