If you need to have a couple of deps for the home-town launch gig of your new single, then its hard to imagine two classier picks than John Turville (keeping the piano seat warm for Dale Hambridge) and Jake Mc Murchie on saxes (filling the space left by Nick Malcom’s trumpet). Moonlight Saving Time‘s brew of funky, soulful grooves held by just so fizzing bass riffs, locked tight drums, sophisticated harmony, the front line blend of voice and horn, plenty of space for fierce blowing and an eclectic mix of styles and source material, all got an extra twist from the guests. A wash of piano chords and keening and vocalised cries from the soprano stilled any chatter from the sizeable crowd to start the gig at possibly the best appointed jazz venue in Bristol. It quickly gave way to a trade-mark riff from Will Harris‘ bass and they launched into their arrangement of David Gilmour’s Douala, Emily Wright‘s vocal soaring over the afro-tinged pulse. When they take a tune, this band make it their own. The Future Inn gig marked the release of a single, a cover of Calvin Harris’ 2009 club hit ‘I’m not alone‘. The contours of the original remain, with the melody and lyric there (check the original out here), but its transformed into a ballad with an understated, effortless groove and space for lyrical soloing (take a listen). Easy on the ear and a stony heart would be required to resist its emotional tug. By the time the live show delivered that punch they’d played a bunch of the increasing number of originals in their set. A Nick Malcolm original , Views, had a bravura McMurchie solo intro with layers of sax built up with the loop pedals and a spooky drone lingering over the funky ostinato figure that emerged. A John Turville solo was one amongst many of the evening that set my heart racing. Little glancing runs sparking off another pulsing hook up between the bass and and Mark Whitlam‘s drums, building up into lyrical flowing lines. Whenever a space cleared for Turville to let rip the temperature went up a few notches, the peaks of intensity always somehow emerging from development of lines and rhythms. He’s a class act. The setting of a Masefield poem, Sea Fever, is becoming a highlight of the band’s set with voice and piano alone hushing the room and reminding us of their versatility. They were in confident form and on this showing the soon to come album will be a treat. London bound folk can catch them at Pizza Express on Monday in the festival. Tickets are still there, but not for much longer I suspect.
Moonlight Saving Time, Future Inn, Thursday 13th November