There was no kidnapping involved as far as we know, but after an Ian Storrer promoted gig at The Hen and Chicken for New Orleans based quintet The Session, whose members have been touring Europe with The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, a two day lull in touring became a shopping trip and playing break with a visit to the regular Canteen jam session on Monday and this pop-up gig at the BeBop club engineered by Ian and Andy Hague. Impromptu gig it may have been, but as Ashlin Parker pointed his trumpet at the ceiling one last time and with an ear piecing blast led the quintet into a down-home New Orleans stomp, there was no doubt it was a roaring, joyous success of an evening. The theatrics of leading the horn section off in procession (temporarily boosted by Bristol resident Julian Alenda for the last number) was only slightly undermined by the difficult they had squeezing between the rows of chairs to get out. The word of social media campaign to conjure up an audience at 24 hours notice had resulted in jam packed room at The Bear (shh… don’t tell ‘ealth and safety). And what a gig it was. A bubbling bass figure from Jason Weaver, given rocket boosters by occasional Christian Scott sideman Charles Burchell on drums, then Parker, himself a regular in Ellis Marsalis’ band, and tenor man James Partridge eased into Horace Silver’s Doodlin. It was effortless, intensely grooving and hair tinglingly thrilling. They mined familiar resources to the full, the impassioned blowing of Parker and Partridge rousing whoops and cheers every time. More complex original material (Untitled Numbers one and two!) introduced a different dimension, a flowing harmonically angular piece by pianist Andrew McGowan and a stately ballad by Jason Weaver drawing out meditative and lament like solos. There was no keeping the sheer exuberance and energy down for long though and the second set surfed to its stomping conclusion via a freshly minted funky groover in honour of temporary surrogate tour manager Ian Storrer. The band were off to Cardiff the next day, but for the dispersing crowd it was hard to believe they were going to have more fun than this.
New Orleans pops up in Bristol: The Session, BeBop Club, Tuesday 5th August