Listening to little ear tweaking melodic phrases, Jeff Spencer’s bass doubling Gareth Lochrane’s flute whilst a subtly distorted guitar chord hangs underneath them, the penny drops. Indigo Kid leader, writer and guitarist Dan Messore is a regular tunesmith. The band’s first album has featured regularly in my playlists over the last couple of years. That, coupled with a tantalisingly brief but widely remarked set at last year’s Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival were more than enough to lure me to Fringe Jazz’s new, roomier home at The Mall in Clifton against stiff competition elsewhere in town (since when did Thursday become peak jazz night?). The all too rare opportunity to catch the quartet was part of their tour playing material from their latest release Fistful of Dollars.
At times they sound like a restrained bluesy rock band, at others like a subversive eclectic country/folk outfit with artless themes twisted by little harmonic shifts and bursts of fierce, fluent improvising from all quarters. All hands to Dance and Skylark could have started life as a shanty with its overtly dance like rhythms, Waiting for Paula switched between a flowing waltz and an edgier slower pulse, Quiet Water merged into The Bay with a catchy folk like melody. Its a subtle engaging brew. Messore has chosen his partners carefully – not any dep will do for this music. Jeff Spencer’s lively feel on bass underpinned everything, but he brought a fluent lyricism as well with some elegant solos and locked tight shadowing of melodies. Gareth Lochrane’s credentials are well established and his rhythmically exciting and fluid lines on flutes of all shapes and sizes quickened the pulse whenever he stepped up (this despite a 5 hour journey from London and walking straight in to the start of the gig as a result). It’s music to warm the heart and put a skip in your step and great to see it at Fringe Jazz’s new berth now confirmed as a fixture into 2015 (loud cheers).