Andrew Bain may sound Scottish (he is) and may be listed as a teacher at Birmingham Conservatoire (he does teach there), but really, we discovered last night, he’s part of a very hot New York crew. Hen & Chicken punters got to hear them at the end of a 14 date run and it showed in the ease and freedom with which they explored Bain’s suite of seven original pieces.
Jon Irabagon (twice Downbeat critics poll winner) led the charge on Accompaniment, a loose rubato theme swept along by tumbling percussion from Bain, the droning bass of Whirlwind Records boss Michael Janisch and splashy piano from Jack DeJohnette and Cassandra Wilson sideman (amongst many others), George Colligan. The tumult built with Irabagon alternately keening and squalling then spinning out blizzards of lightning quick runs before handing the baton to Colligan. Practice showed us how rooted in rhythm they all were with a time shifting groove and preposterous mazy unison rendition of the theme by sax and piano. Colligan let rip with the first of several electrifying work-outs ,Bain and Janish exuberantly following every step, the drums instinctively connecting with accents and bass propelling the headlong frenzy. Responsibility alternated between a shuffling groove and driving swing for a blues, Janisch digging in to raise the temperature with his solo. Hope had a chiming repeated note to set the mood and Irabagon’s solo soared and swooped over a skirling rythmn. Hope got a little raucous too as there seemed to no holding the momentum of this band back.
Bain had created the outlines of the pieces for this band to work with, it was the four-way interaction that brought it all bursting to life. They moved in an out of free-er sections, grooved hard and burned on frequent bursts of racing swing, frequently switching between them with no apparent cues. This was a fabulous, exhilarating ride and the last section, Trust an appropriately rousing, hymn-like, emotional finale.