Gig-bookers have conspired this week to remind us (well, me at least) how much Bristol nurtured talent has been leavening the UK scene over the last few years. The gigs in question were last Sunday’s Moonlight Saving Time gig (here) and Thursday’s at Future Inn with pianist Rebecca Nash and her new band Atlas. The link? As I settled into my seat and meditative flurries from the piano ushered in Lokum, I remember being impressed by a band at the BeBop Club, several years ago now, with Rebecca on keys, Emily Wright and Will Harris (from Moonlight Saving Time) and was Nick Malcolm in that band? Either way he was another link between Thursday and Sunday, appearing in both bands this week. Rebecca is not resident in Bristol anymore and Nick only part-time, but they have all, separately, been quietly building a growing reputation nationally .
Atlas also includes the formidable Chris Mapp on bass and Matt Fisher on drums. Fisher and Nash’s association dates back to college days and their complementary styles were an exquisite thread around which this early outing for a new project turned. The leader’s compositions are eclectic in inspiration. Lokum had an even, rocky pulse, Leonard Cohen’s You Know Who You Are got a re-working, Grace experimented with electronic textures and synthy washes whilst Dreamer developed a delicious groove and a hooky melody. Nash let solo’s build. Shapely motif’s and darting half-thoughts of runs gradually accumulated until flurries of melodic lines fused together. It was fluent and emotional playing. Matt Fisher and Chris Mapp followed every move, Fisher in particular picking up on implied grooves and accents to build an often irresistible pulse. When Nick Malcolm let fly with a typically inventive solo the temperature really began to build. A thoroughly contemporary quartet then, with the composer leader happily fusing all sorts of references and styles into her distinctive pieces. Add them to the ‘ones to watch list’.