February may be one too many months of winter, but as well as my birthday to brighten it up, there’s been plenty of great live and recorded jazz. Nailsea, just south of Bristol is hardly off the beaten track, but a small effort is required to search out the recently restored and managed by a trust Tithe Barn, now a focus for all sorts of creative pursuits including an occasional series of jazz gigs. When I spotted Dominic Marshall was their latest booking, the effort promised to be richly rewarded. His 2014 album Spirit Speech (reviewed here ) revealed a singular musician exploring territory deploying a fluent and expressive use of harmony and improvisation combined with rhythms, grooves and compositional ideas that echo the world of hip hop and beats. The live set with former college mates Sam Gardner on drums and Sam Vicary on bass (these two were in Bristol earlier in the month with the Wildflower Sextet) was in the same territory, but a largely new set of material. It was an absorbing two sets. The jigsaw like meshing of looping riffs and themes from the piano with bass and drums provided the building blocks for compositions that morphed from one mood to the next. The intensity was built as often through repetition and exploration of one of those elements as from more conventional soloing, although there were some dazzling workouts over cycling sequences, especially in the second set. It may not have been the Nailsea audience’s usual fare, but they recognised a good thing when they saw it and cheered the trio to the barn’s medieval rafters.
There’s been some enjoyable music in the speakers during February. Jacky Terrasson’s new release Take This on Impulse! has loads of great moments, my review for London Jazz is here . Having caught Vein at St. George’s back in December, their forthcoming album was a delicious prospect. Catching one of their live dates later in the year may not be easy (there are just a few spread around the country) but will be a real treat. The London Jazz News Review for that on is here. And now March is here and in these parts, half the area’s population of musicians will be hanging out at Bristol’s Colston Hall for the Jazz and Blues festival next weekend (6/7/8 March), helpfully previewed by Charley Dunlap on Listomania. See you there.