Their publicity says ‘sure to put a smile on your face’ and Laura Jurd‘s Quartet, on their first visit to the BeBop Club, more than lived up to the promise. In two sets of bracingly original music, the almost diffident delivery of these dazzlingly accomplished musicians allowed the beautifully crafted and arranged music to have the starring role. Melodies, often deceptively simple and with a folky edge to them are stated and elegantly developed; sudden switches of pace or the entrance of urgently dancing grooves keeps the listener guessing, but its never jarring, just beautifully judged. The ebb and flow of ideas around the band is constant and keeps the mood buzzing. And then someone cuts loose. Lady of Bruntal had a spritely swirling theme that gave way to a rockier passage of rasping trumpet calls and darting runs before Corrie Dick let rip with a storming solo. Sognefjord, all rumble and clatter and a rubato theme developed a racing, clattery backing to another blistering trumpet solo from Jurd, Tom McCredie’s pulsating bass-line locking it all down. Then hints at more clubby beats from the drums sparked an electrifying piano solo from Elliot Galvin all misshapen blues riffs, silvery runs and a visceral groove.
For all the bursts of virtuosity and temperature raising solos, those episodes didn’t dominate the music. These were carefully constructed pieces with strong themes and episodes that developed and complemented them. Oh So Beautiful took the simplest of delicate melodic phrases and pulled it around, stretching over different rhythms, bending and distorting the motif until it went back into shape.
There’s been plenty of glowing music press about Laura Jurd both as composer and player and it was more than borne out by this gig. Its a tribute to the musicians that its the spirit of the music that lingered on after the band had packed up and gone and we were back home. Now there’s a rare gift.