It’s a great gag. The presence of the tenor man Nick (Dover), pianist Malcolm (Edmonstone) AND trumpeter Nick Malcolm on the stage allowed Malcolm (Edmonstone) to try and persuade us the band was called Nick Malcolm Nick Malcolm (so good they named it twice). The real story was the music and the playing of course. This was the sort of happening in which The Fringe seems to specialise. A meeting of players who sound like an established band, look like one, but appear to only pop up at The Fringe. Prime Suspect: ‘The Management’. Of course, sometimes the happenings become an established band and this one threatens to. It was their third appearance at the club, the line-up completed by the inconveniently named Matt Brown on drums and Will Harris on bass. Names aside, its probably harder to find a better rhythm section in these parts.
The theme of Broadway, Britain and Brazil, assayed by Edmonstone, held as they played All the Things You Are, Iain Ballamy’s Strawberries and and an Ivan Lins piece. It wasn’t so clear where Coltrane’s Cousin Mary fitted, but who cares – they were roaring by that stage. The Jerome Kern opener flowered as they each explored the familiar harmony and spiraled off in their own distinctive directions. Edmonstone was an extraordinary presence, as he was in each tune, alert to every feint and flurry and spontaneously re-arranging the harmony and accompaniment in response. More than once, Will Harris’ or Nick Malcom’s eyes widened as he spurred and prodded them on. In the Ivan Lins piece he picked up a phrase from Malcolm and wove a two handed counterpoint development of it round Malcolm’s own sinuously evolving line. Was there particular electricity between the restlessly inventive Dover and Edmonstone? They do go back a long way. Edmonstone grinned and burst into applause after Dover’s first solo on ‘All the Things You Are‘. Cousin Mary closed the first set, Matt Brown’s boiling rhythms erupting into solo spot to match the intensity cooked up in the rest of the band’s solos.
This evening was cut short for me by the shivers of the seasonal cold, but reports were that the second set was even better (of course). It may soon be time for this formidable line-up to be seen beyond the confines of the Fringe. Until then, be sure to catch them next time they pop up.